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ALF staffing: Does the pay get them to stay?

March 10, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Assisted living facility (ALF) employees increased their average earnings since 2013—some by much more than others, according to the Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Service’s Assisted Living Salary & Benefits Report 2014-2015.

Among salaried employees, the largest pay increases since last year went to human resources directors (+2.74 percent), wellness coordinators (+2.66 percent) and maintenance supervisors (+2.66 percent). CEO and CFO payscales increased by 1.62 to 2.24 percent, with national average salaries of $120,000 to $128,000. Directors of nursing saw an increase of 2.24 percent, resulting in an average national salary of $63,900.

When it comes to hourly pay positions, some of the largest pay hikes since last year weren’t in the nursing ranks, but in the kitchen. The pay rates for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) rose by less than 1 percent over last year, while pay rates for cooks and sous cooks rose 2.83 percent and 2.89 percent, respectively. Dining room supervisors also saw a healthy jump in pay (+2.87 percent)

Hourly rate caregivers earned 1 to 2 percent higher pay based on national averages, while dementia personal care aides earned an average of 2.5 percent more. Despite increases across the board, positions such as resident assistants, certified nurse aides, dementia care aides and medication aides all remain below $12 an hour on national average, according to the report.

Turnover rates in assisted living settings rose slightly since last year (up 1 percent), with the highest turnover rates remaining among the same three job titles as in the 2013-2014 report cycle: Dining services, marketing and resident assistants. All three job sectors had turnover rates of about 35 percent, higher than the combined average of 28.7 percent across all employees.  

What strategies work best to retain valuable employees? More than 60 percent of those surveyed in the report offer tuition reimbursements and/or staff recognition programs to reduce vacancies and turnover, data showed. Only one-third of ALF facilities use a recruitment bonus, but 30 percent offer a retention bonus after an average of three years of service. Mentoring programs are also popular, being used by nearly 40 percent of responding ALFs.

The current report based its data on a respondent pool of 1,666 ALFs across all regions of the United States. The highest number of respondents were from the South Atlantic region (West Virginia to Florida) and the Pacific region (West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii).