Bureau of Audit
Audit Report On The Monitoring Of The Physical Conditions Of Senior Citizen Centers By The Department For The Aging
June 30, 2008
AUDIT REPORT IN BRIEF
Download the Complete Audit Report (pdf 930 kb)
The Department for the Aging (DFTA) plans, administers, and coordinates the provision of services that assist many of the City’s 1.3 million elderly adults to participate in their communities and maintain their independence. DFTA contracts with 329 senior citizen centers throughout the City’s five boroughs to provide services to the elderly. The audit determined whether DFTA properly monitors the physical conditions of its senior citizen centers.
Audit Findings and Conclusions
DFTA monitors the conditions of its senior citizen centers on a regular basis and uses methods for conducting and recording assessments that appear to be adequate. However, its monitoring needs to improve in the follow-up of identified problems and in the provision of assistance to the centers in correcting those problems. Certain conditions at the centers that we cite in this report were also cited by DFTA in its own 2007 and its 2008 assessments (the majority of which took place between January and March 2007 and between January and April 2008, respectively). However, there is limited evidence that DFTA followed up its findings or worked affirmatively and promptly with senior citizen center officials to ensure that conditions were corrected. Some of these conditions still existed at the time of our visits, which took place between October and December 2007.
Our visits to the 20 sampled senior centers provided evidence that the majority of the centers were accessible to the handicapped. In addition, the majority of the centers had evidence that fire drills were conducted and that written evacuation plans, diagrams, exits signs, and choking-victim signs were in place. All except one of the centers had at least two fire extinguishers, and all of them had first aid kits and defibrillators.
However, our visits to the 20 senior centers also provided evidence that the maintenance of these centers’ safety, cleanliness, and physical conditions needs to be improved. There were fire and personal safety problems at many of the centers that we visited, as well as improper conditions related to cleanliness and physical concerns in the bathrooms, kitchens, and throughout the centers. At eight centers, we found problems with no more than 25 percent of the areas tested. However, at five centers there were problems for at least 40 percent of the areas tested—at three centers, there were noticeable concerns regarding maintenance and physical conditions. Although DFTA was aware of the conditions at these centers, we were provided with little evidence of DFTA’s efforts to work with center management to have the conditions corrected.
Based on our findings, we make 13 recommendations, 7 of which are listed below. DFTA should ensure that:
- The centers cited for problems with exit passageways immediately correct them.
- All senior citizen centers possess either current place-of-assembly permits, if required, or documentary evidence indicating that an annual fire inspection was conducted (or requested).
- All of its senior citizen centers conduct fire drills at least twice yearly and that they maintain complete documentary evidence of such drills.
- All senior citizen centers regularly inspect and document tests of their fire and safety systems.
- All of the centers fully comply with safety issues and concerns noted in this report.
- All of the bathrooms of the senior citizen centers are monitored on a regular basis, properly maintained, and repaired immediately when a problem is noticed.
- All senior citizen centers maintain safe and sanitary conditions in their kitchens, including maintaining a clean environment, ensuring that thermostats are placed in all freezers and refrigerators, and ensuring that all food is stored at proper temperatures.
In their response, DFTA officials generally agreed with 12 audit recommendations and partially agreed with 1 recommendation.