I recently read an interesting article about CNAs in nursing homes.  CNAs change adult diapers, clean soiled residents and help the elderly dress, eat and shower among other duties.  Unfortunately, these employees who handle so much of the daily, essential care needed by nursing home residents are underpaid.  The article states that the average pay for new CNAs is less than $8 an hour, only a dollar or so above minimum wage.

As a result of the low pay and demanding job description, CNA turnover is as high as 170 percent at some facilities.  Dale Patterson, vice president and chief financial officer of Evergreen Healthcare Management says about CNAs, "It’s hard work.  And on a relative scale (employees say) ‘I can flip hamburgers for the same pay or I can take care of old people with incontinence problems.’…So of course turnover is high."  Gary Weeks, executive director of the Washington Health Care Association industry group says that many CNAs qualify for food stamps and other public benefit programs.

Low pay for CNAs also means lower quality of care for residents in nursing homes.  Facilities with high numbers of Medicaid patients report "losing" money because of low government reimbursements for such patients.  Less revenue means lower pay.  These facilities spend an average of 44 fewer minutes on direct care of patients each day, they have more patients spending most of their day in bed and a higher percentage of patients with pressure ulcers.  This adds pressure to the nurses who end up overmedicating residents or using chemical restraints.  Larry Minnix, President & CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging backs this theory up by stating "The best proxy for quality that we have is staffing."

Starting pay for a CNA in upstate South Carolina has recently been increased about $8.50 per hour.

SEIU Sold Out Nursing Home Workers and Patients

SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights made public today internal
memos and agreements between Andy Stern’s Service Employees International
Union (SEIU) and nursing home operators that show just how Stern sold
nursing home workers out. The nursing home workers lost their rights to
strike, complain publicly about quality of care problems and improve their
pay and benefits under the secret Stern-backed agreements with nursing home
Nursing home operators got the unions’ lobbying clout for more Medicaid
dollars, for tort reform measures and against safe staffing requirements in
nursing homes. SEIU got the right to represent workers, if shoddily, and to
receive dues.
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Rat dies in mouth of California nursing home patient

Staffing was so inadequate at a California senior center that a rat crawled into an Alzheimer’s patient’s mouth and died there before staff noticed, a lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit alleges that Paragon Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in Mission Viejo overbooked their facility to receive corporate bonuses, but cut back on staff to increase profits.

"The facility so literally ignored the needs of their residents … as to allow vermin in the form of a rat to become lodged in the mouth of Sigmund Bock and die therein," the lawsuit alleges.

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