The national turnover rate among both registered nurses and certified nursing assistants working at continuing care retirement communities both increased by roughly 5% between 2020 and 2021, according to the industry’s largest salary survey. 

The increases were expected to come in much higher and could signal that employees are very willing to stay with their current employers for the right price, one expert predicted. 

Those job titles also saw wage increases well above traditional national averages.

Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Services (HCS), in conjunction with LeadingAge, published its 2021 CCRC Salary & Benefits Report late last week. The survey found the national turnover rate for RNs increased from 34.81% in 2020 to 40.45% in 2021, while CNA turnover also increased from 41.08% to 45.87% during the same period. 

“The most surprising fact was that turnover was not higher,” said Matt Leach, principal and senior consultant for Total Compensation Solutions. “There is a very hot job market among the CCRCs and it is very easy for employees to move jobs for a few more dollars.” 

Leach explained the survey data tells providers that “as long as you offer a competitive salary, many employees are willing to stay in their current job.” 

“It will be interesting to see if this still holds as other facilities offer higher and higher wages,” he told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Friday. 

The data also found that the average hourly pay rate for RNs at CCRCs increased 3.42% in 2021. That’s up from its 2020 increase of 2.74%. The average hourly rate for CNAs increased 4.10% in 2021. 

The national average hourly rate for RNs at CCRCs — also called life plan communities — was $33.95, the survey found. The figure was $33.42 for CCRCs with less than 300 total skilled, assisted and independent living units. It was $33.57 for CCRCs with 300 units or more. 

Hours worked for RNs, CNAs and licensed practical nurses increased by 25.5% over the year in response to COVID-19 and its impact on long-term care. About 58% of respondents said they provided pay adjustments — like appreciation pay, bonuses and hazard pay — to their employees and those working with COVID-positive residents. 

“With everything going on in the healthcare market — COVID, lack of qualified workers, minimum wage laws — companies need to ensure their pay is competitive with the market,” Leach explained. 

He added, “When you speak to CCRC’s, almost without failure, they will mention not being able to find many healthcare roles, including CNA’s. So, the increases and turnover numbers are a result of supply and demand. Going forward, we would expect these trends to continue since there is such an issue finding CNAs and other healthcare roles.” 

The report includes data from more than 500 CCRCs. The full publication is available for purchase at the HCS website.