By Steve Moran

I recently received this rant from a reader and I agree 100% with the sentiment.

Steve, Really, CNAs caring for 12 residents each? Divide an 8 hour day minus one-hour break, minus staff meetings at the beginning and end of every shift. So you would give every CNA 30 minutes per resident?

To wake, bathe, dress, assist with eating, two meals, assist to transfer from bed to wheelchair, and assist by pushing their wheelchair to the activity room? 

Can’t be done!! And it’s why with 8 residents per CNA my friend waited 3 hours – yes – for a call bell request to have bathroom assistance!!

Right now in my area (the Northeast United States), CNAs earn $12 an hour and, at very best, $15! 

That is with Covid raises!!

So at best $600 a week! No one can buy food, pay rent, and cover transportation and medical costs on $600 a week!!

Don’t say ‘staff choose senior living jobs because they love residents.’

The staff may love residents, but heating costs will be up 50 percent and it’s already 34 degrees! My heat is $129 now for a modest single home! Apartments in my town start at $1,000, with new buildings going for $2,300!!

A large multilevel community near me has closed two dining rooms and eliminated the buffet because they can’t get dining help!

Stores near me are paying $18 per hour! Convenience chains here start, with no experience, at $13, plus a $1,500 bonus, plus college credits, profit sharing,  plus a free meal at every shift!

That’s starting pay for making sandwiches!

And that chain has flex hours!

My friend has sought workers for an SNF for months with a $500 bonus and no one shows! She had one person come for an activity assistant — three quit during Covid so she needs workers!

That applicant was perfect! But when offered $15 an hour says, “I make $20 making sandwiches.”

Unless senior care offers better pay, flexible schedules, good benefits, 401Ks, and education, no one will choose back-breaking, demanding, infection-risk jobs in healthcare!

Please address this reality in your next column!

Sorry for my “!” But I, like you, love residents and care about the future of senior living. And it looks horrible without quality workers!

I have been in places with lazy unmotivated staff and they are there because they are the only staff the community could get. And this is true even in high-end places. I wouldn’t let my dog stay there for a weekend!

We have to figure this out. It will take a combination of things:

  • Higher wages
  • Rate increases 
  • Technology
  • Better storytelling, which will lead to higher occupancy
  • More work on helping residents to have healthy, meaningful experiences, which will mean lower demands on staff, higher occupancy, and longer lengths of stay