Survey: CNAs Cite Low Wages, Burnout, Lack of Respect as Key Contributors to Staffing Crisis
CARL JUNCTION, MO – (March 4, 2022): The biggest challenge to CNAs’ jobs is the impact of the current staffing shortage, according to the results of a new survey from the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA), the professional association for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs).
CNAs were asked to provide feedback on their biggest on–the–job challenges, reasons for leaving, or wanting to leave, their jobs, as well as what it would take for long–term and post–acute care employers to hire them back. The survey also asked respondents to report the staffing ratios they experience on their shifts and to describe concerns about their work.
The following results offer a window into what underpins the CNA staffing crisis and how it is affecting care today:
• Nearly 84 percent of respondents said it would take better wages and benefits to be hired back by their nursing homes, while just under half said that better training/opportunities for career advancement would lure them back.
• Poor wages and benefits were cited as the primary reasons why CNAs have left, or are considering leaving, their jobs.
• The CNA staffing shortage is the most pressing challenge for CNAs right now, according to more than half of the respondents.
• Burnout/exhaustion and lack of respect from leadership are the second and third biggest challenges, respectively, for CNAs.
• Respondents reported the following data about the number of patients (per one CNA) they must care for during their shifts over the past four weeks:
o 35 percent who worked either first, second, or third shift care for between 15 to 20 patients/residents
o 18 percent of those who worked one of three shifts care for 25 or more patients/residents
o 36 percent of those who work either first or second shifts care for 15 to 20 patients/residents
o 32 percent of those working either first or second shifts care for 10 to 15 patients/residents
o 34 percent of those working third shift care for 15 to 20 patients/residents
o 33 percent of those working third shift care for 25 or more patients/residents
The hundreds of comments submitted by respondents illustrate the extent to which CNAs are frustrated and exhausted:
• “Unappreciated, overworked, exhausted. Company allowing residents … to cuss, hit, throw things at staff and nothing done about it.”
• “I feel burnt out, not appreciated from leadership. I feel like the nurses are not the only ones on the frontline—we are too. But we always get overlooked when we know the patients better than the nurses do.”
• “I feel like the lack of respect for the job that we do is the largest problem. Until society sees firsthand what CNAs do and recognizes the value we bring to patient care and experience, they will not take our jobs seriously.”
• “The shortage is obviously the number one factor, but the degrading and disrespect we receive from not only the corporations but also the families, as we are trying to do our best.”
“These survey results aren’t surprising, but they confirm and highlight the urgent need to prioritize efforts to attract and retain CNAs. This means not only better wages and benefits, but also strong cultures of inclusion and respect,” said Lori Porter, NAHCA co–founder and CEO. “What’s more, providers must offer ongoing mentoring, training, career advancement, and other opportunities for CNAs.”
NAHCA Board Chair Sherry Perry said: “The comments from CNAs illustrate that the largest contingent of the long–care care sector’s workforce has reached a breaking point of extreme exhaustion and burnout. It is a tragedy that we are losing so many caring professionals to a crisis that could have been avoided.”
The results of the survey came on the heels of President Biden’s announcement to address concerns about nursing home quality and safety. “While we are heartened by the president’s statements, nursing home care cannot improve without an overhaul of staffing requirements as well as funding that supports increased wages and benefits for CNAs,” said Porter.
The National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) is a professional association of and for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and represents more than 26,000 CNA members across the country. NAHCA elevates the professional standing and performance of health care professionals through recognition, advocacy, education, and empowerment to maximize success and quality care.