Why You Need CARF Accreditation

why you need carf accreditation

An organization that provides rehabilitative services that wants to improve the quality of its treatment and enhance their community image will seek CARF accreditation. CARF is the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, an international organization that promotes the quality, value and optimal outcomes of services by accrediting service providers. The mission of CARF is enhancing the lives of the persons served, including individuals who represent those who are unable to exercise self-representation. CARF accreditation exhibits a dedication to continually providing quality programs and services.

Benefits of CARF accreditation to persons served

Those requiring rehabilitation services often have many choices when deciding which service provider to use. Even when the individual is not choosing the provider him or herself, another person is looking at the options and making a decision based on the quality of services, loyalty to the community and CARF accreditation. The reason that the CARF stamp of approval makes such a difference is the procedure that the provider must undergo to prove that they are dedicated to excellent results for the persons they serve.

A CARF accreditation demonstrates that the provider has shown a commitment to improved organizational efficiency and effectiveness. 1,200 -1,400 standards have been established for them to conform to, which means that, with a successful accreditation, processes have been reviewed to meet the CARF mission. The CARF process that a provider goes through ensures that it has a standardized set of operating policies and
procedures, enhanced teamwork and improved quality assurance through the efforts of becoming accredited.

Benefits of CARF accreditation to the service provider

Besides the benefits to those persons served, the local community, stakeholders, payers and insurers will see better results. This will provide an improved image of the organization which can lead to greater support and usage of the provider. The community as a whole will notice that the people served are being better managed receiving better treatment and, likely will have better outcomes because of more person-focused standards. Stakeholders will see the pledge to quality and the transparency that the provider must reveal and feel more comfortable providing financial backing. Government agencies that issue funding will recognize the upgraded commitment to standards and protocol. Insurers will see the attention to risk management and recognize that the CARF accredited organization is a lower risk. The CARF survey process also requires fulfillment of licensure laws and third party payments that is appealing to government and private funding as well. Even potential quality employees will seek an accredited service provider to employ them. It also shows the
community that the employer has listened to and encourages feedback on their services.

All of this positive impact makes CARF accreditation an excellent package to use as a marketing tool to consumers, referral services and third party payers. After receiving accreditation, a service provider also has a new resource for quality programs. CARF offers accredited members access to publications, training, consultation, conferences and newsletters.

According to CARF, the change in use of the accredited programs rose significantly from the time before the first survey compared to time of their latest survey. These were indicated by a 26 percent increase in persons served annually, a 37 percent increase in conformance to quality standards and a 37 percent increase in annual budget dollars. These numbers alone show the value of becoming accredited by CARF.

CARF accreditation builds a sense of cohesiveness

In addition to the financial value of receiving CARF accreditation, an organization that undergoes the CARF survey process can develop a sense of cohesiveness among the staff. The standardization of operating policies and procedures will bring together departments that may not have been as dependent upon each other before and now will be able to work more cooperatively. This sense of community will help develop trust in each other as employees as well as the trust of those served.

The CARF survey will address both the administrative side and the program side of the service provider. The interweaving of the policies and procedures, plans and satisfaction surveys will bring together the two branches, as the administration side which makes those policies will need to interact with the staff that is providing the services. CARF accreditation is a goal for the entire organization and upon receiving 3 year, 2 year or 1 year accreditation with few recommendations, administration can pass on the praise to all employees.

CARF Accreditation Demonstrates Accountability

A provider’s statement of commitment to CARF accreditation standards of quality and quality assurance demonstrates that it is accountable. Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions and policies in the rehabilitation arena. This responsibility is answered to by the administration and those implementing those policies with an obligation to report, explain and be answerable to the resulting consequences. This is represented in a standardized set of operating procedures that indicates that the provider will operate more efficiently. It takes time and effort to write these policies and procedures, and an organization that wants accountability will provide them.

Respect for CARF Accreditation

The CARF accreditation process is thorough, yet the surveyors are typically business people themselves. They may impart information to assist the provider to assure that they can meet the mission of CARF, to enhance the lives of those served, and show their respect for it. Because CARF accredited organizations have more strict guidelines for risk management, health and safety, corporate compliance and business practices, they are considered a lower risk. The effect of this is recognition by specific insurance providers for aging services and child and youth services organizations with discounted rates. Payers also respect the accreditation with potentially faster payment timelines.

Organizations that can benefit from CARF

Rehabilitative services can cover a wide range of individuals needing assistance. Those service provider organizations that CARF will accredit include:

Aging services
Behavioral health including opioid treatment programs
Business and services management networks
Child and youth services
Employment and community services including vision rehabilitation
Medical rehabilitation including durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.
CARF accreditation is found in 19 countries on five countries to over 48,000 programs and services.

Steps to becoming CARF accredited

To receive CARF accreditation, a service provider can first consult with a CARF resource specialist to receive guidance and assistance regarding the steps of the process. Next, the organization should purchase the standards manual that outlines what is expected and how the organization is to conform. A self study or mock survey should be conducted to determine where it needs improvement, and when a timeline has been set to accomplishing conformance, an Intent to Survey form can be submitted. Note that any of the new standards that have been enacted must have been in place for at least six months before the CARF survey can take place.

To make the process run more smoothly, a service provider can acquire the services of an experienced CARF consultant. A consultant can develop a timeline, review policies in place and suggest any that are needed, as well as conduct a mock survey. When hiring a CARF consultant, it is best for the provider to determine his or her level of experience in the program service area and as a CARF surveyor before hiring to insure a qualified individual.

CARF accreditation distinguishes the organization that is providing rehabilitative services to the community. It is more than just paying a fee and receiving a certificate. By seeking and then obtaining CARF accreditation, a service provider shows transparency, commitment to quality treatment and demonstrates accountability. It also shows that it is operating at the highest level of organizational efficiency and effectiveness as possible. The benefits include community recognition, less risk and potentially lower costs, more funding and increased business, and the benefit to those served is confidence that they have chosen a quality provider with better outcomes.

Tom Sefcik bio