Home care advocates call to raise wage of workers helping elderly with hygiene, housework

Advocates are calling for the “Silver State Home Care Standards,” which include a $20 minimum wage and increased funding to support small home-care businesses.
Kelsea Frobes
Kelsea Frobes
Health CareLegislature

In what experts are calling a “silver tsunami,” Nevada’s retirement-age population is growing more rapidly than the rest of the country, causing the demand for home care services to drastically increase. 

There are currently more than 13,000 home care workers in Nevada whose jobs include assisting older adults with bathing, feeding, transportation to doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and reminding patients to take medication. 

Home care workers are usually required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but some positions do not require it. Formal training or passing a standardized test may also be required.

Before the minimum wage was raised to $16 during the last legislative session, home care workers were paid around $11 an hour for more than a decade. 

Now, workers want that wage raised to $20 to address the effects of inflation and to incentivize working in home care. If this were to pass during the 2025 legislative session, the employer reimbursement from Medicare would be raised from $25 to $30 an hour to support small businesses. 

In Las Vegas, the living wage for a worker without children is $21.40 per hour according to Dave Bates, a spokesperson for the union who is working to pass this bill. 

Regina Brown-Ross, a Nevada home care worker, said that “we become their companions, some of them don't have families. So we've become their lifelines.”

These low wages disproportionately affect women and people of color, as the home care workforce is 85 percent women and 59 percent people of color

Brown-Ross has been a home care worker for eight years, and said that these wage increases will push more people to join the profession and sustain it as a career. 

“A lot of the home care workers at $10.50 to $12.50 an hour don't last even a year because there's not enough money to sustain our families. And so that wage increase is crucial,” Brown-Ross said.

According to Brown-Ross, this is the first time that the home care workers have a union and a home care standards board in place.

Sen. Rochelle Nguyen (D-Las Vegas) has been a big advocate for a minimum wage increase. For her, the fight is personal — when Nguyen was 10, her grandfather had a stroke and because of home care workers, was able to stay in her home for seven or eight years.

Nguyen said that most of the home care agencies are small businesses. 

“When we talk about supporting small businesses, when we talk about supporting our community, when we start talking about supporting those that are most vulnerable, whether they be our aging population or disabled population, this incorporates all of those different people within that,” she said. 

Nguyen said that funding for home care comes from Medicaid and federal government aid, but believes that in the long run, Nevada would save money by increasing home care worker wages. According to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Nevada saves about $75,000 annually for every client who receives home care rather than being sent to a nursing home.

“Not only are we saving taxpayer money by keeping people in their homes and not sending them to a nursing home, but we're also contributing to the overall economy by allowing someone to go on that vacation, buy those extra services, go to a movie, go to a baseball game, do some of those things that maybe they weren't able to do because they weren't making enough money to afford basic rent,” Nguyen said. “It really is a holistic thing that will save our state probably millions of dollars.”


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