Nurse supporting senior man to sit on wheelchair
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Long-term care workers in several regions are in line for significant wage increases after employees received substantial pledges from their respective operators. 

The Iowa-based operator Lifespace Communities on Monday announced a more-than $17 million investment that will increase pay for more than 3,600 workers at its 14 continuing care retirement communities. Employees will begin seeing the raises over the next two months, with many receiving raises in the double-digits, according to the company.

“These wage increases touch every team member, from our nurses to housekeepers to culinary servers,” said Nikki Kresse, Lifespace’s chief people officer. “We want to remain competitive, keep our workers happy and recognize them for their dedication and hard work.” 

The hope is that the move will help attract and retain more qualified workers and be more competitive in the hiring market, according to company leaders. 

“We are committed to listening to and acting on feedback from our team members and residents as a critical step in becoming world-class,” said Lifespace President and CEO Jess Jantzen. “A common theme from our listening strategy was the need for a more competitive pay structure, and we responded.” 

Wage increases in order to retain staff has also been a solution for taxpayer-owned facilities, as well. In New Hampshire, county officials were forced to hold an emergency meeting to discuss how to increase pay for nursing home workers due to staffing shortages and keep a 94-bed facility staffed enough so it can remain open.  

In New York, a group of nearly 250 for-profit nursing home employers avoided a strike by reaching a new three-year labor deal with about 33,000 workers late Monday.

The agreement promises 3.5% wage increases in 2021 and 3% raises in 2022 and 2023, while also giving each employee a $1,500 recognition bonus for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operators also agreed to negotiate future recognition bonuses during any public health emergency. 

“This is a strong contract that recognizes the sacrifices our nursing home workers have made caring for everyone else’s loved ones and provides them with the continued means to care for their own families,” George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU, which represented the workers, said in a statement Tuesday.  

“From raises to an in-hand bonus, workers can rest better knowing their efforts aren’t just being recognized with banners outside of their facilities and catered lunches, but with the respect and dignity they have earned as heroes,” he added.