A nurse with money in their pocket
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Costly bonuses remain a key strategy as providers try to find and retain workers amid sharply rising salaries for continuing care retirement communities. 

While some salary categories averaged an increase of more than 5%, others went into the double digits.

“Salary increases cannot continue at a 10% increase rate due to affordability,” said Matthew Leach, principal and senior consultant for Total Compensation Solutions. “We do expect to continue to observe staff and sign-on bonuses, at least until wage inflation comes down.” 

His comments followed the release of the 2022-2023 CCRC Salary & Benefits Report. The annual report is released by Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Services (HCS) in cooperation with LeadingAge. 

This year’s findings show that the national average salary for directors of nursing at CCRCs increased by 5.49% in 2022, from $102,559 to $108,191. Last year, average DON salaries at CCRCs increased by 3.10%.

Average salaries jumped by 3.11% (from $123,912 to $127,769) nationwide for nursing home administrators at CCRCs from 2021 to 2022, while registered nurse salaries increased by 5.84% (from $73,921 to $78,239). 

Average rates for certified nurse aides increased by 11.03%, while non-certified nurse aides jumped by 10.04%. 

“These types of increases were unprecedented over the past 10 to 20 years, but now they reflect what is going on in the market,” Leach told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Thursday. “This data speaks to what CCRC/life span communities are doing to retain their current staff because they have tried to recruit new employees and struggle finding employees.” 

Survey data from respondents also found that most facilities, 55.4%, have had to make pay adjustments for key employees, while 24.8% are now using sign-on bonuses to attract new employees. 

Leach said researchers have observed a decade-long trend of a growing prevalence of bonus plans at the leadership level and the expectation is that will continue in the future. 

“In terms of bonuses to staff levels, we observe a number of providers are offering spot bonuses and sign-on bonuses as a way to offer additional compensation without having to commit as much to base salary increases. This is working well as it provides a temporary fix for pay inequalities,” he said. 

He said there are limits to these types of pay since they do not address the underlying base salary increases. 

“If organizations rely too heavily on bonuses and not salary increases, they will find themselves trailing the going pay rates,” he said. “The trick is to manage bonus plans [with] the increased [rates].” 

The report includes data from more than 400 CCRCs. The full publication is available for purchase at the HCS website.