What has CARF shown to Northwest Return to Work?
In the wake of a rigorous survey in mid-October of 2020 we recently received the letter informing NWRTW that we had earned a three-year accreditation, the maximum length allotted to organizations to undergo this process, for our Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program and our Chronic Pain Management Program.
The fact remains, however, that no business or clinic is perfect. During our survey time, we learned of many ways that we could achieve greater success in areas such as information delivery, data analysis, and third-party communication. Achievement through CARF doesn’t just come from the effort required to meet their standards, but in the submission of plans and their progress to address areas seeking improvement. Over the years, our privilege in working with CARF has given us opportunities not just to spotlight our potential vulnerabilities, but also to highlight our successes.
What is CARF?
For more than 50 years CARF, an independent accreditor of health and human services has been assisting medical programs around the world in order to assist and distinguish a provider’s service delivery. Receiving accreditation is a rigorous process that if achieved, signals to the public that the provider is committed to continuous performance improvement, is responsive to feedback, and is accountable to the community and its other stakeholders. These accreditations last for a maximum of three years before they must be proven again, and this is no small task.
Why is CARF important for medical providers?
As with any organization, it’s vital to ensure that how we deliver our services is not just excellent in our clinical practice, but is also achieving positive results in areas like organization, leadership, planning, safety, technological competence, financial adherence, and performance improvement.
These topics alone are worth significant discussion in any setting, but are especially impactful to those we serve in healthcare. These discussions are, and must always be, in a state of evolution if we want to succeed in creating a space in which stakeholders are served to the best of our abilities. CARF, serves as a comprehensive evaluation of all these topics and more; driving each business that undergoes this process to prove themselves as achieving their standards and as worthy of their label, if only for a time.
What does it mean to be accredited?
Accreditation requires an in-person survey (digital to adjust for COVID-19), the submission of evidence for standards, and extensive interviews for past and present clients, staff, stakeholders, and leadership. This is done to check that the organization is adhering to a list of dozens of standards outlined in a yearly released several hundred-page manual, diving into deep detail of each one. There is almost no stone left un-turned as a business must identify specifically how it addresses policies, who they affect and what can change for the better. It should be mentioned that these surveys are carried out by industry professionals, many of whom have spent decades as practitioners themselves.
The CARF organization is not immune to their own standards either. Their standards have been consistently shifting to adapt to encompass modern issues that are becoming ever more present topics of discussion in clinical practices. Subjects like accessibility, equity, inclusion, and diversity are among the hundreds of items in their sights. Considering the wide scope of their processes, a practice that excels in one sector may not receive accreditation on the grounds that the others need more attention.
An organization that receives their accreditation must not prove themselves just at the time of the survey but the years leading up to it. In the case of clinics that have previously been surveyed, there must be evidence that they have continued their improvements, heeded past suggestions, progressed through challenges, and reflected on each success and failure.
An organization that is accredited multiple times can see this as a process that isn’t just three years in the making, but closer to nine, like that of Northwest Return to Work.
“Northwest Return to Work and Evaluation Services has a commitment to excellence that has earned it a reputation in the community for the provision of quality rehabilitation services to clients with chronic pain and brain injury. Its leadership is knowledgeable and active in advocating for the needs of clients. Clients receive care in an environment that is spacious and well lit. There are a vast array of equipment options for clients to use in providing simulation of activities that clients need to feel supported as they return to greater function.”
-CARF Accreditation Report, December 2020