A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Virginia is hoping to beat the senior living labor crunch with a new program that lets certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work 30 hours a week while getting paid for 40.
The Glebe, a 218-unit LifeSpire of Virginia community in Daleville, Virginia, is targeting May 4 to officially implement its new “30/40” initiative. LifeSpire is a regional senior living nonprofit that owns and operates four CCRCs, or life plan communities, in the state.
Under the program, CNAs in The Glebe’s 32-suite skilled nursing center can work six hours a day but get paid for eight, provided they clock in on time, show up for work as scheduled and stay until their shift ends. If they fail to meet those requirements—including by calling in sick—they can’t take advantage of the program for the rest of the week.
The initiative is aimed at attracting and retaining talented workers in a red-hot local market for senior living CNAs, according to Ellen D’Ardenne, The Glebe’s executive director. Other providers across the U.S. have looked at creative ways to attract CNAs, such as paying them a salary during training.
The national average annual turnover rate for CNAs who work in CCRCs is 40.1%, according to the latest CCRC Salary & Benefits Report from the Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service. That rate is higher than LPNs (29.7%) and RNs (35.4%), but lower than employees who work in dining services or therapy (43.3%).
The 30/40 program is designed to attract a large number of CNAs by offering them an improved work-life balance, time for additional education or time to pick up a second job.
“We looked at all sorts of ideas, but this one stuck because…we felt like it was a win-win,” D’Ardenne told Senior Housing News. “This is something no one in our region is attempting, it’s very unique and it’s looking out for the employee, who is the biggest asset for the organization.”
Spend a little, save a lot
LifeSpire’s average rate for newly hired CNAs has hovered around $12.00 per hour. In the end, the senior living provider expects the initiative will add a net amount of $22,000 to labor costs per year. But costly as it may be, the provider believes the initiative might save some money in the long run.
“When we looked at the numbers, based on the amount of money that we put into the ongoing recruitment efforts annually, turnover costs, it was a no-brainer,” D’Ardenne said. “It is a financial investment but we believe it’s going to pay off.”
The Glebe hopes 30/40 will attract at least dozen new CNAs, at which point it will switch from a three-shift rotation for CNAs to a four-shift rotation.
Though it has yet to be implemented, there are signs the program could be very popular. In the 48 hours after announcing the new initiative on March 23, The Glebe received around 25 job-related CNA inquiries—as many as it usually gets in two months, D’Ardenne said.
If the initiative is indeed a hit, The Glebe may expand it to other positions, including for people who work in its assisted living and memory care wings. LifeSpire may also adopt the initiative at its three other communities.
“Everybody’s watching us right now. I’ve got all my eggs in this basket,” D’Ardenne said. “But I believe in it. What we have seen thus far from the initial advertising that’s gone out to bring folks in…has been phenomenal.”
Written by Tim Regan