"It has a bad reputation for nasty nurses and a low rating for care by patients families, but I personally had no big problems in my facility until recently."
I think the key point here is that your facility has a low rating. Why do you think, *really*, that it has a low rating? You can blame this person or that person, but at some level the most likely reason is that administration/management is complacent. You could say that maybe the RN's or the supervisors are complicit with this kind of behavior, but in many cases they are in the same situation as CNA's: Problems are not being taken care of. If these CNA's are going around trash-talking to anyone who will listen, and this has been going on for a long time, then it is not like no one else knows that this is happening.
Just to be explicit, because it is easy to "normalize" in our own minds what we deal with on a regular basis, but such "trash-talking" behavior is unprofessional, and it should have been dealt with by now. Criticisms about other employees should be given to a supervisor in private, or whatever process your facility has, IN PRIVATE.
The other thing is that don't assume that everything is the way it appears. Cliques are often superfiscial, and they have a way of seeming to be more influential and more popular than they really are. Usually it is just a lot of people who are afraid of getting involved and don't know what is true, and one or two drama queens who are good at listening in on other people's conversations, and know what other people's biases are so know where to put pressure. But it is the environment that allows this sort of thing to spread, and you are kind of stuck in the middle of it.
How long have you been at this facility? If you have been there less than a year or two, then it might be best to wait it out, or you can go to the administration/management/DON yourself and alert them that there is a problem. Just make sure you have your facts straight and don't base anything on speculation and hearsay. Like I said, not everything is as it seems, but on the other hand I've learned that it isn't a good idea to ignore your "social instincts" either. When your intution says that something is very wrong, and your job is in jeopardy, then you really should listen.
I suggest that you really should be prepared to walk away from your job if things get bad, or even if the current situation isn't dealt with. CNA's are fired, or are forced to resign, all the time, and it could be positive turnover or negative turnover, and places with poor leadership don't know the difference, and they end up with poor ratings. I worked as a CNA for three and a half years, lived on my own income, and I budgeted rigorously just so that I could save back enough money for the day I might have to walk away from my job. At the same time, always be looking at what other opportunities there are for CNA's in your areas, and hopefully you'll find one with a better rating.
Until then, always do your job correctly and understand your role and obligations as a CNA. A place with a lot of negative turnover is likely to target the CNA's who do their jobs correctly, because it is more work to do things right and low performers don't generally know what all their job entails anyway. If you are uncertain at all about your job, and know that there are areas where you are doing things a certain way just because this is the way it has always been done, check your facilities policies and procedures, I wouldn't just ask the RN/Charge Nurse, I'd go right to the DON because your job might be at stake. If this patient is a 2 hour check and change, then make sure they are checked and changed every 2 hours, and document rigorously. Never rely on other CNA's, even your precepter, to explain to you what your duties are. There is a lot of laziness and that laziness gets normalized. Do this just to give the people in charge a chance to make things right eventually, and make it easy for them to tell the difference between the hard-working, dedicated workers and the lazy, selfish and plain ignorant ones. But none of this will save you. You are always one false allegation away from being fired or even have your right to work in health care taken away.
But I would be looking at other jobs. I'm now a Dialysis PCT and it was my CNA experience that got me the interview. It was even more true now than it was when I was a CNA, but it was certainly true then: You have to be willing to walk away from a job when it is getting bad and no one is listening, because that is often the only time anyone *will* listen. But don't give ultimatums, because it makes you look silly if you change your mind.