Invest in CNAs

Certified Nurse Aides

Systemic structural issues in nursing homes from infection control to unsafe staffing levels must be solved to provide quality care. Nursing home operators for years have pointed to staffing as one of their biggest challenges. A study using payroll-based journal (PBJ) data from nursing homes found that the median turnover rate at U.S. nursing homes was 94%.

Everyone knows the solution. Increase staffing especially of direct caregivers. The best way to do that is pay them a living wage, provide benefits, and have a minimum of 2.5 hours per patient day for certified nurse aides. For CNAs, the average turnover was 129.1%, according to that study — which used PBJ data from more than 15,000 facilities across the U.S.

More than 3,600 U.S. health care workers perished in the first year of the pandemic, according to “Lost on the Frontline,” a 12-month investigation by The Guardian and KHN to track such deaths. Lost on the Frontline is the most complete accounting of U.S. health care worker deaths.

58% of respondents to a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation survey said their employers were “falling short” on higher wages for workers in harm’s way.

Living Wage

The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) CNA wants to elevate the CNA role in nursing homes. Better pay and safe staffing is the key. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018 shows that a CNA could make between $10.24 and $19.02 per hour depending on location. South Carolina CNAs often get paid minimum wage. They deserve a living wage.

One of the goals for NAHACA is to advocate for a wage increase for CNAs.  They advocate for $16 per hour.

“In the future, we need incentives for people to become CNAs, and not only to become CNAs as a passing job to their career as a nurse,” he said. “That is fantastic, but what we really need is incentives for people to become a CNA as a career path. That will only happen through wages and benefits.”

Nursing homes especially for-profit national chains do not pay their caregivers fairly or sufficiently especially CNAs paid at minimum wage. They lack benefits like paid sick leave and health insurance. As a nursing home attorney, I know that happy caregivers provide better care.