Tag Archives: CNA wages

Can I Afford to be a CNA?

 

 

Bob Goddard

A prospective caregiver asked this question in one of the CNA Facebook groups: “What do CNAs start at?”

The first person to reply said this: “If that’s the first thing you want to know about being a caregiver, you don’t belong in this field.”

That reply got several positive responses. After all, CNA work isn’t about making money, right?  It’s all about taking care of people, not your bank account. Right? So take your question elsewhere, you money grubbing sociopath.

Of course, they didn’t actually say those words, but the condescension was certainly there.

This attitude is shared by a small, but vocal minority within the direct care workforce. It’s an attitude that arises from a small-minded, but persistent misconception: expecting reasonable compensation for the work is incompatible with the compassion necessary to do the work. This notion is erroneous and harmful.

Really, take a moment and consider what the young lady was actually asking. I think it was this: “Can I afford to be a CNA?” “Will it pay my bills? Will I be able to support myself and my family? What sacrifices will I have to make? What sacrifices will the people who depend me have to make? Or do I have to go elsewhere in order to better meet my obligations?”

My guess is that she went elsewhere.

“Can I afford to be a CNA?”  This is grown-up talk. It’s about the hard realities and difficult choices people have to make. Asking it has nothing to do with a person’s capacity for caring and compassion. Anywhere else this would be regarded as reasonable and responsible question. But for some in the CNA community, it’s a red flag and those who ask it should be dismissed as morally unfit for caregiving.

I have a question for the caregiver who gave the “you don’t belong in the field” reply – or for anyone who thought that it was a good way to respond: Where is your compassion for that young lady?  Where is your compassion for people who might very well become great caregivers and love the work just as much as you, but are denied the opportunity because they simply wouldn’t be able to make ends meet?

Where is your compassion for caregivers who are single mothers and have to work two jobs or unreasonable amounts of overtime just to feed and clothe their kids? Do you have any compassion for the young children who don’t see enough of their mothers?

We know that wages have a direct impact on attracting and retaining workers. The high turnover rate of caregivers has an appalling effect on the continuity and quality of care in LTC, and makes it almost impossible to keep many of these homes adequately staffed. Where is your compassion for the workers who struggle day after day in these chaotic conditions and unmanageable work situations?

Also, let’s not forget the managers that are forced to hire people they might not necessarily want to hire, because poor wages artificially limits the pool of candidates. And then they – and everyone else in the place – has to tolerate inadequate work performance or absenteeism or tardiness or outright disrespect from these workers because the managers know how difficult it is to replace these caregivers.

Where is your compassion for the families of residents who live in poorly staffed homes?

Finally, where is your compassion for the residents who have to live in these homes? And really, isn’t that the bottom line here?

There are those in positions of authority who are influenced by and even exploit the notion that “good caregivers don’t care about money.”  Make no mistake, when that idea comes from our ranks, they will use it.