Increasing job satisfaction, benefits among ways to keep CNAs

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Job satisfaction, emotional well-being and benefits are key issues in retention among certified nursing assistants, an expert told nursing home providers yesterday.

University of Pittsburgh professor Jules Rosen, M.D., presented the results of “Stayers, Leavers, and Switchers Among Certified Nursing Assistants in Nursing Homes: A Longitudinal Investigation of Turnover Intent, Staff Retention, and Turnover” on the last day of the annual LeadingAge conference. While previous studies have demonstrated the high rates of CNA turnover, Rosen and his team sought to understand why people leave. They found that benefits, especially health insurance, made a difference as to whether a CNA stayed at a facility or went elsewhere, as did whether he or she felt there were opportunities for promotion or were happy at work.  

Providers should evaluate costs around full-time and part-time CNAs, Rosen warned. While providers may be motivated to hire part-time CNAs in order to save on health insurance costs, this can backfire when the assistant has to be replaced, Rosen said. The cost of a CNA turnover is about $3,500, and the rate of full-time CNAs leaving is far lower than part-timers.

The good news for providers is that a CNA's intent to leave does not always translate into leaving. In Rosen's study, 85.8% of respondents had stayed in their facility after a year. 

“There is a core of stable people in the workforce,” Rosen said. His study was first published in The Gerontologist.