Sen. Stern, Asm. Santiago joined SEIU 2015 in championing the Skilled Nursing Quality Standards Board to address the industry’s “Great Resignation” crisis and dangerously low staffing levels to ensure quality care
May 6, 2022, Los Angeles, CA – Yesterday, long-term care providers and members of SEIU Local 2015—the nation’s largest long-term care union and California’s largest labor union representing more than 400,000 nursing home workers and home care providers—participated in a town hall with State Senator Henry Stern and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago to bring attention to the numerous issues plaguing the nursing home industry. A stream of the event can be found here.
During the town hall, the legislators and SEIU 2015 leadership also discussed the proactive steps being taken to transform the broken industry, including through the recently proposed Skilled Nursing Quality Standards Board (SN QSB). Announced earlier this year in partnership with Senator Stern and Assemblymember Santiago, the Quality Standards Board seeks to establish uniform standards for California’s nursing homes that experienced skyrocketing turnover rates for years, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Long-term care workers have been leaving their jobs at alarming rates due to the low wages and poor working conditions they are forced to endure, resulting in dangerously low staffing levels in nursing homes across the state,” said April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015. “In order to stem the exodus of workers leaving the long-term care industry, we need to implement changes that make jobs in this field sustainable, more attractive, and safer. Our proposed Quality Standards Board will provide those on the frontlines—who clearly understand what is needed to fix our nursing homes—an important seat at the table, ensuring our communities’ most vulnerable receive the care they deserve.”
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing home workers have been on the front lines providing vital care to our community’s most vulnerable residents. At the same time, they’ve been paid low wages and forced to endure poor working conditions, which has led to skyrocketing turnover rates in nursing home facilities across the state,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “The proposed Quality Standards Board will establish standards across the nursing home industry that will make sure our caregivers are protected, respected, and adequately paid.”
“For years, too many nursing home operators in California have prioritized profits over people, which has led to a crisis in California’s long-term care industry,” said Senator Henry Stern. “We need to act urgently to make jobs in this industry more attractive and sustainable, so nursing home residents receive the quality care they deserve. I’m proud to support the Quality Standards Board, which will ensure essential nursing home workers are finally recognized as the health care heroes they are.”
The town hall event comes amid a long-term care industry in crisis. Battered by the dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and pre-existing labor issues related to poor wages and lack of access to benefits, care providers have been leaving the profession at unprecedented rates. Since the start of the pandemic, the long-term care industry has lost hundreds of thousands of caregivers nationwide, including approximately 16,000 nursing home workers in California alone – which represents more than 11% of the total nursing home workforce in the state. Furthermore, recent polling from SEIU Local 2015 of caregivers across California suggests that this trend is likely to continue. The survey found that half of nursing home workers are likely to leave their current position within the next year, with respondents citing low wages and staffing shortages as the primary reasons for their potential departure.
The proposed Quality Standards Board would establish a number of industry-wide standards for California’s nursing homes and their essential caregivers to address the underlying challenges contributing to the skyrocketing turnover rates in the nursing home industry, including:
- Establishing an industry-wide minimum wage standard for all nursing home staff
- Implementing safe staffing level requirements at nursing homes
- Strengthening benefits for caregivers, including access to healthcare and paid sick leave
- Enforcing certain training requirements for nursing home workers
“As the need for long-term caregivers continues to grow, it is imperative that government officials in California act immediately to reform this broken industry and alleviate the staffing crisis affecting nursing home facilities across the state,” said SEIU Local 2015 Executive Vice President Arnulfo De La Cruz. “The proposed Quality Standards Board provides an opportunity for the California legislature to actually listen to the feedback of our state’s frontline heroes and establish uniform standards that can ensure quality care for our family members, friends, and loved ones residing in nursing home facilities.”
During the event, Sen. Stern and Asm. Santiago also fielded questions directly from long-term care providers in attendance about the Quality Standards Board, including questions about how the proposal would directly affect their work.
The town hall is the latest in a series of statewide actions taken by care workers and SEIU 2015 members to bring attention to the urgent crisis affecting California’s nursing home industry. Last month, members of SEIU 2015 – also joined by nonunion workers fighting for a union – mobilized across the state in a series of actions to address dangerously low staffing levels and the “Great Resignation” that continues to plague nursing homes. And in March, similar actions took place across California, including at the State Capitol in Sacramento where a vigil was held to commemorate the lives of frontline heroes who tragically lost their lives to COVID-19 while working in California’s nursing homes.
To learn more about SEIU Local 2015 visit www.SEIU2015.org or on social media @SEIU2015.