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The Ultimate Staffing Solution

April 1, 2001
by Richard L. Peck, Editor
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    How would you like it if someone called you a hero? More than that, what if that person spread the word about your heroism on radio stations throughout your listening area? I know, you're probably like me, modest as all get out-but still, wouldn't you feel at least a hint of pride swelling in your chest?

What if someone were to do this for certified nursing assistants (CNAs)? That's just what they tried at the Illinois Council on Long Term Care and, as you'll find in reading Sandra Hoban's "Recruit, Retain, Reward" (p. 20), the Council was rewarded, after a six-week radio campaign, with 600 inquiries about employment positions in long-term care. I guess what struck me about this particular episode, although Sandra and author Richard Hoffman write about other excellent staffing options as well in this issue, is that I could well imagine the pride that comes from being recognized in the broadcast media.

These days, getting yourself mentioned favorably on radio or TV means that you are certifiably a "star." To be a "star CNA"-what a concept.There is no shortage of other ideas these days for coping with the massive staffing problems of long-term care: adopting a Medicaid pass-through for staff salary increases; encouraging immigration of overseas nursing staff; allowing for "single-task" workers, such as feeding assistants, in nursing facilities; raising the minimum wage; and more. And there is all the talk, and maybe even government action this year, concerning minimum staff ratios, although the assumption here seems to be that employing a larger number of people will in and of itself translate to quality (which ain't necessarily so).

None of these proposed remedies is perfect, although they probably would help if suitably funded.But, to me, the ultimate solution to the long-term care staffing problem is one that goes to the heart of the matter: professional pride-whether it is engendered through continuing education, career ladders, mentoring opportunities, recognition ceremonies or repeatedly broadcasting the word "hero." Address that, and all else will follow. NH

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