It can be tough keeping nursing home residents engaged and entertained following the implementation of strict visitor and social distancing guidelines. 

But one Nebraska facility used farm animals to cheer up residents as staff members rethink how to do programming amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Residents at the South Haven Living Center, an 85-bed skilled nursing facility in Wahoo, NE, recently enjoyed a visit from two horses, a pony, goat and dog. The idea for the visit came after administrator Brooke Belina heard about the idea from family and friends. 

Belina, who grew up on a farm, recruited her high school friends, Courtney and Zack Kaup, to bring the animals in for a visit to the facility for an out-of-the-ordinary experience for residents. 

“We just went window to window, and it was really fun. The residents just loved it,” Belina told McKnight’s. “It was kind of funny, silly and light-hearted. They really had a good time with it.” 

Belina said staff members have been thinking of creative and new activities for residents to do as they work to get through the pandemic. The farm animals were just what they needed. 

“There has been so much focus on all the things that we can’t do right now. We can’t have visitors, we can’t have group activities, we’re not doing communal dining. [Residents] are eating in their rooms, they can’t hug the staff, they can’t have that close contact anymore,” Belina said. 

“We just have really been trying to — in all of our programming — find things that focus on what we can do right now,” she added.