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Dec. 9, 2019

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Oregon’s care for elderly and disabled needs improvement

Report follows up on recommendations made in audit of state agency

Published: February 5, 2019, 8:41pm

SALEM, Ore.  — The Oregon Department of Human Services still has significant work remaining on most recommendations in a state audit of the agency’s program that provides in-home care to the aging and disabled people.

That’s the conclusion of a follow-up report that the Secretary of State’s office released Tuesday about work done since the original audit, which was released in October 2017, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.

The audit had found shortcomings in the Aging and People with Disabilities Program, which served about 13,230 people in 2017 through its consumer-employed provider service.

The program allows participants to hire their home care worker.

In a statement, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said his office is encouraged by the progress but “there is still more work to be done to ensure aging adults and people with disabilities are safely receiving the care they need.”

The audit made 11 recommendations. Work on seven of those have started, but remain incomplete. The other four recommendations have been fully put in place.

Ashley Carson Cottingham, the director of the Aging and People with Disabilities program, said the audit was valuable for improving the program.

“Through the recommended changes, we’ve been able to strengthen key components of the program around safety and are working hard to finalize the remaining planned improvements for consumers who opt to use the program,” she said in a statement.

Unfinished work includes establishing minimum home-care worker training requirements, putting a new model for the home-care worker program in place that reduces the workload of staff, and developing a skills assessment for home-care workers.

The recommendations aren’t yet in place for a variety of reasons, the report said.

For example, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1534, which requires the department to put minimum training standards in place for home care workers by 2020. The department has put together a work group and its proposal is in the rule-making process.

The auditor’s recommendation for a new model for managing the home care worker program to reduce workloads is considered a long-term goal and may require input from lawmakers, the report said.

The agency has put recommendations in place that include training for case managers to recognize when consumers need more help and monitoring the care they receive and contacts with staff.