BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – With the state’s aging population, long term care facilities and their employees are facing some challenges.
One of which is pay, but there also concerns about keeping up with the ever growing demand for workers, including Certified Nursing Assistants.
The problem: retaining them given the challenges of the job.
Chelsea Bouchard, a newly single mother and CNA, said the pay makes it hard to get by.
"Provide for yourself let alone your child who's growing, needs food, needs new clothes, new shoes. It's hard and I have two jobs and it's still hard,” she said.
Jahneya Malave said she likes her job as a CNA, but is now going to school to be an accountant in the hopes she can make more money.
"It was supposed to be a bigger stepping stone then working at McDonald's, but with everything changing it's almost becoming equal which can be frustrating,” Malave said.
Melissa Dube said she fears about the impact a shortage will have on the quality of patient care.
"We manage and we get it done and it's done properly and people are happy but it's just hard,” she said.
According to DHHS, there are a total of about 14,000 Active CNA licenses in the state.
Only a small fraction, just over 8,000 are actually working in that field according to the Department of Labor.
This as the demand for more keeps climbing.
Dawn Mitchell trains students for careers in health care at the United Technologies Center in Bangor.
"The changes that I've seen in the nine years that I've been here is the demand for CNA's it is increasing,” Mitchell said.
That demand so high there is a long waitlist and the center has had to add additional instructors.
"Not just CNA's but health care providers everywhere,” she said.
Mitchell does have concerns about being able to keep up with it all while ensuring her students know what they are up against.
"We do talk about the pay and the work that they do for the pay,” Mitchell said.
Most of her students are hoping to use their CNA job as a jumping off point.
"I know it can be hard, but this is something I really want to do. Helping people for the rest of my life is something I'm interested in," Victoria Haskelly said.
Haskell plans to work her way through college as a CNA, and eventually become a nurse.
It’s that compassion that Mitchell hopes to instill in her students, and something she believes money can and needs to buy.
"They work extremely hard. They are the caregivers for these people. They see them every day." she said.
Nursing homes are not the only area of concern. More caregivers are needed for assisted living facilities and adult day programs.