Why This Senior Living Provider is Paying People to Become CNAs

It’s no secret that the senior living industry is dealing with a labor shortage, forcing some providers to get creative with staffing.

To help beat the crunch, a United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) location in Chelsea, Michigan, is taking an extra step to snag a few good certified nursing assistants: paying for their training.

Chelsea Retirement Community is now taking applications for a new pilot program dubbed CNA Career Pathway. The program is aimed at recruiting people who are interested in becoming CNAs during a time when CNAs are hard to keep in senior living, Michelle Baldwin Henderson, vice president of human relations at UMRC, tells Senior Housing News.


“Most of the CNAs that come to work with us are using [the job] as a stepping stone,” Henderson says. “They like that experience, but they’re not planning to stay.”

Under the new program, five lucky candidates who pass a round of interviews and a background check will be able to enroll in a three-week CNA training program at a local community college or career center. During that time, UMRC will pay their classroom fees upfront in addition to a full-time salary of $10 an hour, Henderson says.

Then, provided they are able to pass the test required to get certification, they’ll be hired on to work a part- or full-time shift at the Kresge Skilled Nursing Care Center, which is on the Chelsea Retirement Community Campus. Additionally, they’ll get a pay raise to the current union rate of $13.85.


There’s just one condition: participants will have to sign an agreement to work for UMRC for a year.

“We need CNAs… who are really dedicated to staying and helping build the culture of caring for our residents,” Henderson says.

If the program is successful, it could be repeated or expanded to other UMRC communities.

“We want to follow their path and see how successful they’ve been, for both their own career goals and for the goal of staffing Kresge,” Henderson says. “Then, we’ll reassess it in the first six months to a year.”

Written by Tim Regan

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