Those who have ever had a loved one move to a nursing home know how important proper staffing is. The caregivers who work in senior living centers are vital to the wellbeing of your family member and your own piece of mind. Nurses or certified nursing assistants (CNAs) are the ones who take care of residents every day. This includes helping patients with their daily tasks like bathing, grooming and eating. CNAs are also in charge of assisting with activities, helping residents with exercise, and reporting any changes or concerns to a registered nurse on duty.
Despite the need for qualified nursing assistants, there is a shortage of CNAs in nursing homes across the country. This lack of CNAs is leaving nursing homes in crisis and their directors quickly searching for solutions.
Why is There a Shortage of CNAs in Nursing Homes?
Nursing homes are facing a shortage of CNAs for a number of reasons. Fort Hudson Nursing Center CEO Andy Cruikshank says, “A nursing home turns people off. It’s public perception…that’s just the world we live in.” In addition to the general lack of appeal many young CNAs feel toward nursing facilities, there are other contributing factors behind the shortage.
Lack of Federal Funding
In the 1960s, the government invested federal funds in building many new nursing homes across the country. Now, due to a lack of funding and the condition of these aging facilities, some nursing homes are having to close their doors. This same lack of funding is also hindering any new facilities from being built. Most nursing homes today are privately owned and financially supported by its residents.
Cuts in Medicare and Medicaid
Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid have only made matters worse. In 2011, Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes was cut by 11 percent. This means that Medicare is providing seniors with less care, and many nursing homes have realized they are losing money on these Medicare residents. However, it remains illegal for a Medicare certified home to turn away these residents, but they do not have enough financial resources to pay for their care. This puts facilities in the difficult position of not having enough money to keep the facility open or keep enough CNAs and nurses on staff to provide the right amount of care to each resident.
How the Shortage Affects Patients
The shortage of CNAs has a direct effect on the residents who live in nursing homes across the country. Many patients have had to wait hours for a nurse to answer their call when they press the button in their rooms. Additionally, other patients have stated that they have had to wait days to receive proper care, such as help with bathing and dressing. CNAs are a vital aspect of making sure seniors living in care facilities have the help they need to stay healthy and happy during their stay.
How the Nursing Shortage can be Fixed
In response to the crisis nursing homes are facing, many facilities have taken matters into their own hands to hire and keep quality CNAs. Some nursing homes have chosen to up their starting salaries for CNAs in hopes of attracting certified nursing assistants to their facilities. Additionally, many are offering free nursing training courses to men and women who are interested in becoming CNAs. This allows more people to get certified at no cost to them. Senior living homes know how important CNAs and RNs are to the well-being of their residents, and many are willing to go the extra mile to make the job worth while.
Over the next 25 years, the number of adults over 65 who are in need of long-term care is projected to increase by 70 percent. That means the need for qualified CNAs will also rise dramatically in that time frame. With the demand high, now is a great time to become a nursing assistant.
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