Barclay Friends Creative Approach to Recruiting and Retaining CNAs

Kendal believes that a spirit of inclusion and a culture of diversity enrich and strengthen communities, people and services. Creating this environment requires concentrated efforts and is the shared responsibility of each community and team member.

Kendal Charitable Funds, which was incorporated in 1989, supports the charitable goals and aspirations of The Kendal Corporation, its network of affiliates and the wider world of aging. The 2022 Affiliate Grant program provided support to Kendal affiliates in areas focused on increasing commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and a sense of Belonging (DEIB), particularly among employees. Each month we plan to share a story from a Kendal affiliate to highlight the strides they made in DEIB initiatives as it relates to workforce, starting with Barclay Friends.

Barclay Friends CNA Program

Barclay Friends has found a successful, sustainable way to recruit and retain Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) in its West Chester, Pennsylvania community.

When the DEIB Workforce grant opened across the System from Kendal Charitable Funds, Barclay Friends knew they wanted to focus on the critical work CNAs provide to their community.

Each day, CNAs assist in daily living activities such as showering, transfers, feeding assistance, and so much more. Like many organizations, Barclay Friends saw people veer away from healthcare jobs during the pandemic. However, that didn’t change the community’s desire to recruit and retain enough CNAs to provide the highest quality resident care. But, equally important, the community has continued to maintain its high standards for hiring these frontline workers, taking great care to find people who believe and practice Kendal’s values, those with a person-centered mentality and driven by quality care.

Interestingly, for Barclay Friends, it wasn’t finding people interested in the field of work that was a challenge. Instead, the barriers of out-of-pocket costs and the time needed to devote to training deterred people from pursuing CNA jobs. Mariesly Febles, Education Coordinator at Barclay Friends, shares, “Most people can’t commit to three weeks unpaid from their job. It could devastate the finances of the family. By providing a paid opportunity to train as a CNA, we empower them to take this next step and ultimately provide a better income for their family.” The grant from Kendal Charitable Funds covered the first cohort’s paid training.

Training CNAs on-site has reciprocal benefits. “We have found that CNAs trained at Barclay Friends are better aligned to Kendal’s values, which stem from our Quaker roots,” shares Laura Smith, Director of Health Services. “These individuals acclimate to these values from the get-go. It’s helped on the recruitment and retention sides, as it organically spreads that culture throughout our community.”

Individuals who participate in the program are paid for the three weeks they spend training and receive immediate employment with pay starting at $17/hour along with health benefits, PTO and a 503b plan.

More importantly, they are provided with flexible scheduling and the opportunity for future career growth in the nursing field. Employees at Barclay Friends have access to the community’s tuition reimbursement program, with access to training programs for LPN or RN positions, with even higher starting salaries.

Barclay Friends CNA Program

Success Creates Continued Opportunities

The program has been hugely successful, with the first cohort participating in the CNA training program in the fall of 2022. All five participants, who were employees of Barclay Friends in the environmental or culinary services departments, completed the program and accepted immediate employment. Today, four of those individuals remain at Barclay Friends. Dave Raible, Director of Development and Marketing, shares, “This successful cohort has created a pipeline of diverse CNAs for our organization and provided increased income and future career opportunities for our staff. In addition, the move to a CNA position meant a 50% wage increase for our staff who accepted these new jobs.”

Inspired by Mariesly

Laura Smith credits Mariesly Febles with inspiring the first cohort of individuals. “These individuals are empowered with the confidence of being able to do more for themselves now and in the future. We are helping give them the keys to success and showing them it’s never too late to return to school. It has a lot to do with Mariesly, an immigrant to the United States who uses her story to inspire these individuals.” Mariesly adds, “I came to the United States about 20 years ago and struggled with learning English, finding a job and returning to school. After getting into the nursing field, I knew I wanted to help others do the same. So many people want to train in this field but don’t know how or don’t have the support they need. I encouraged these women to take the opportunity they have now and focus on how to use their flexible schedule to pursue additional education in the future.”

Program Will Continue

Barclay Friends has committed to continuing the program, with four cohorts completed or confirmed for 2023. They credit the funding from Kendal Charitable Funds as the momentum needed to start this program. Moving forward, the program will focus on recruiting a mix of external and internal candidates. To learn more about the program, please contact Laura Smith, Director of Health Services at 610.918.3412.