SEIU Local 1107

Advocates Call for $20 Minimum Wage for Home Care Workers, Increased Funding and Training to Ensure Quality Services for Rapidly Aging Nevada


Press Release

Political Action
Home Care

Advocates are calling for a set of state legislative policies which are urgently needed to address the home care crisis and ensure quality services for Nevada’s rapidly aging population and people with disabilities. A “Silver Tsunami” is crashing over the Silver State as Nevada’s population is aging much more rapidly than the rest of the country and demand for home care is skyrocketing. The policy proposals, called the “Silver State Home Care Standards,” include a $20 minimum wage to recruit and retain workers; increased funding to support small home care businesses; more service hours so clients receive the level of care they need; and improved professional training for caregivers.

Advocates said they are launching a robust grassroots campaign to pass the standards in the next legislative session. The campaign will include frontline home care workers and clients speaking directly to their legislators, mobilization of senior and disability advocacy groups, and extensive social media and advertising. They are seeking to build on the foundation of a historic $16 minimum wage and funding increase which they won in the last legislative session.

“Providing loving care to others is my God-given life’s purpose,” said Malu Lopez, a home care worker in Las Vegas. “I take care of three older clients who all have serious medical issues. I not only support all their physical needs, but I also listen closely and seek to understand them so I can care for them as a whole person, including their mental and emotional well-being. Despite the importance of my work, I used to be paid only $12 an hour and I was always behind on my bills. The recent $16 minimum wage has given me so much hope, but we urgently need to make more progress. We’re building a movement to transform home care into a sustainable profession so that our clients get the care they need.”

As the Chair of the state legislature’s Finance Sub-committee on Human Services, Senator Rochelle Nguyen championed the successful passage of the minimum wage and major funding increase last year. Previously, home care workers’ average wages had been mired at around $11 an hour for over a decade and funding had been basically unchanged for 20 years. The increases have been life changing for the state’s 13,000 home care workers and a groundbreaking step toward solving Nevada’s crisis-level workforce shortage which has been caused by poverty pay.

“This is a very personal issue for me because my grandfather had a wonderful home care worker for many years,” said Senator Rochelle Nguyen. “He had a stroke when I was a kid and had to move in with us. I grew up in a very family-oriented household and my parents didn’t want him to have to go to a nursing home. That wonderful caregiver enabled our family to keep my grandfather at home and helped him live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Now my dad is 78 and is living with my family. I want to make sure that when the time comes, we can find a home care worker for him who has the same compassion as my grandfather’s caregiver. Families throughout Nevada are going through similar experiences as mine. Building a well-trained, fairly compensated home care workforce is essential to care for our mothers, fathers, grandparents and loved ones with disabilities.”

A recent poll of 1,000 likely Nevada voters shows that home care is one of the only remaining issues that enjoys broad support across Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Among the findings, 80% of likely voters said they are concerned about the shortage; and 85% support raising caregivers’ wages. 91% of Democrats, 83% of Independents and 79% of Republicans said they’re more likely to vote for candidates who are committed to addressing the home care crisis and improving pay for workers.

Even with the recent wage and funding increases, much more needs to be done. Nevada still ranks 46th nationally for spending on home and community-based services per resident. And a home care worker in the Las Vegas area who is single with no children would need to earn over $21 an hour in order to meet the cost of living.

The home care workforce is 85% women and 59% people of color. They help with all the daily activities that empower seniors and people with disabilities to live at home with dignity, health and well-being, including bathing, feeding, taking clients to doctors appointments, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and medication reminders.

In the last decade, Nevada’s 65 and older population soared by 46% and there are now almost half a million seniors living in the state. Families increasingly cannot find caregivers for their loved ones due to severe difficulties with recruitment and retention of workers. One out of two home care workers leave their jobs in the first year and Nevada will need 32,000 new caregivers in the next decade.

Expanding home care is not only important for ensuring quality services, but is also fiscally responsible. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, for every client who receives home care rather than being sent to a nursing home, Nevada saves about $75,000 annually.

For the past few years, home care workers have been mobilizing through their union to solve the problems they and their clients have been facing. In 2021, they successfully established a first-in-the nation Home Care Employment Standards Board, in which workers, clients, government officials and employers collaboratively created policy solutions, including the minimum wage and funding increase. The legislature passed those recommendations and Gov. Lombardo signed them into law last year. After those policy victories, over a thousand home care workers voted to unionize and over 800 have won strong union contracts. Workers and advocates hope to continue this progress by passing the “Silver State Home Care Standards” in the next legislative session.