The agency that helps arrange home care for elderly and disabled people needs to take immediate action to improve safety — according to an audit released Wednesday.

The audit by Oregon’s Secretary of State Office found that some patients can’t properly manage their home care workers, especially when a patient has Alzheimer’s or a similar disease affecting mental capacity. 

The audit also found the Aging and People with Disabilities program doesn’t make sure workers are trained to meet a patient’s specific needs.

Ashley Carson Cottingham with the Department of Human Services generally agrees with the findings of the audit, but said problems are overstated.

“The tone of the audit makes it sound like this program is not going well, and I would argue that it’s going very well,” Carson Cottingham said. “We are meeting the majority of consumers’ needs.”

She said in the example of a patient with Alzheimer’s, the family simply needs to designate someone to manage the home care worker on their behalf.

The audit also found excessive workloads are stopping managers from contacting clients as often as required — and that problems with data collection make it difficult to evaluate the program.

The Secretary of State has several recommendations for improving the program, including providing more support to home care workers and having staff consistently follow monitoring policies.