CARF Standards for Independent Living Communities

CCRC Accreditation Provides Benchmark for Excellence

Long-term care and aging services providers provide the heartbeat for quality initiatives in the industry. @Jonathan Evans, Getty Images

The Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) has issued new standards of quality applicable to independent living communities and revised standards for assisted living communities.

CARF is an international nonprofit accrediting organization of health and human services in the following areas: Aging Services, Behavioral Health, Opioid Treatment Programs, Business and Services Management Networks, Child and Youth Services, Employment and Community Services, Vision Rehabilitation, Medical Rehabilitation, DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies).

While providers are not required to be accredited by this organization those that choose to typically find they have a competitive edge in the marketplace.​

Speaking to ALFA, Sue Matthiesen, the organization’s managing director of the aging services accreditation area notes: “We’re not an advocacy organization. We’re a neutral body whose primary work is to develop and implement standards of quality to help quality improvement and foster performance improvement."

CARF accredits thousands of health and human services programs serving everyone from children to seniors and organizes its programs into 11 standards manuals, including a manual for aging services applicable to independent and assisted living, dementia care and stroke specialty programs, among others.

“Our model is recognizing excellence in the field but we also know it’s all about performance improvement. …It’s very much a peer-to-peer process.

Our surveyors are people who work in our field,” Matthiesen said.

Continuing care retirement communities are eligible to receive a 5-year accreditation and other communities can achieve a one or three-year accreditation.

Each set of standards is developed with the input of providers, consumers, payers, and other experts from around the world.

Each year, CARF updates its standards manuals to ensure that its standards are relevant and guide service excellence. Often, the updates provide clarification in response to feedback received from the field.

Third-party payers, governmental agencies, and the public at-large recognize CARF accreditation as a demonstration of accountability and conformance to internationally accepted standards that promote excellence.

Competitive Advantage

Among the many benefits provided by CARF accreditation are:

  • Business improvement.
  • Service excellence.
  • Competitive differentiation.
  • Risk management.
  • Funding access.
  • Positive visibility.
  • Accountability.
  • Peer networking.

 Other Quality Organizations

There are many quality initiatives being pursued in the aging services sector. Being versed in the healthcare players can jump start your education around quality and aging services.

Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes

The Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes Campaign helps nursing homes achieve excellence in quality of care and quality of life.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

AHRQ is the health services research arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

American Health Care Association (AHCA) 500

As the nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers, AHCA advocates for quality care and services for frail, elderly, and disabled Americans.

Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) 500

ALFA educates federal and state policymakers about the assisted living philosophy and advocates for public policy that advances quality of life for seniors.

Center for Excellence in Assisted Living (CEAL)

CEAL was created at the request of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2001.

The Eden Alternative

The Eden Alternative is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to transforming care environments into habitats for human beings that promote quality of life for all involved.

The Green House Project

The Green House Project creates small, intentional communities for groups of elders and staff to focus on living full and vibrant lives.

Institute for Person-Centered Living (IPCL) 404

IPCL is an independent, nonprofit joint academic/consumer venture dedicated to advancing the philosophy and practices of person-centeredness across home and community-based (HCB) long-term services and supports.

The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.

Leading Age

LeadingAge is an association of 5,400 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging.

Long-Term Quality Alliance (LTQA)

The LTQA was formed to respond to the increasing demand for long-term services and support and the expanding field of providers who are delivering that care.

Medicare Quality Improvement Community (MedQIC)

The Medicare Quality Improvement Community (MedQIC) Web site is a free on-line resource for quality improvement interventions and associated tools, toolkits, presentations, and links to other resources.

National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) 500

The National Adult Day Services Association is a leading voice of the rapidly growing adult day services (ADS) industry and the national focal point for ADS providers.

National Association of Home Care and Hospice 500

NAHC is the nation's largest trade association representing the interests and concerns of home care agencies, hospices, home care aide organizations, and medical equipment suppliers.

The Pioneer Network

Pioneer Network calls for a radical change in the culture of aging so that when people go to a nursing home or other community-based setting it is to thrive, not to decline.

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