Missouri gets federal grant to help retain nursing assistants at veterans homes

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A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grant has been given to Missouri to help retain certified nursing assistants at the state’s seven veterans homes. Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director Grace Link says new CNAs are being given $500 after 6 months, 12 months and 18 months of employment. Link thinks the grant will help to keep more of them around.

Grace Link (Photo courtesy of Missouri Veterans Commission)

“Certified nursing assistants are a shortage – not just in our state – but nationwide. It’s hard to recruit and retain certified nursing assistants,” Link says. “I think it (the grant) will help. I think it will be part of making a difference,” she says.

Link says the commission is also reviewing shift differential pay for staff working nights and weekends and it has reduced mandatory overtime to four hours per shift from the previous eight hours, unless more is the only option.

“All of that together should make a huge impact,” she says.

Link says the CNA shortage is due to difficult work, low pay and the amount of involuntary overtime required due to the vacancies. The workers currently make about $12 per hour at the veterans homes.

A critical shortage of CNAs has led to the Missouri Veterans Home in northwest Missouri’s Cameron to intermittently stop admitting new residents since October 2018 – leaving 30 beds unfilled. Link says other homes have taken the same approach in the past but are not currently doing so.

The state has about 1,230 beds at its veterans homes.

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