CARF International Accreditation
What is CARF?
Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor 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)
The CARF family of organizations currently accredits close to 50,000 programs and services at more than 22,000 locations. More than 8 million persons of all ages are served annually by more than 6,500 CARF-accredited service providers.
CARF accreditation extends to countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
What is the CARF accreditation process?
The CARF accreditation process starts with a provider’s commitment to continuous improvement and culminates with external review and recognition that the provider’s business and service practices meet international standards of quality — with all the steps in between focused on optimal outcomes for the persons the provider serves and sustained organizational success. Achieving greater satisfaction for stakeholders, improved organizational efficiency and effectiveness, as well as an enhanced community image, are among the benefits of the CARF accreditation process.
The CARF standards have been developed over 40 plus years by international teams of service providers, policy makers, payers, family members, and consumers. The standards have also been submitted to the public for review to validate relevancy and ensure input from all interested stakeholders.
After a service provider commits to accreditation, the accreditation process begins with a thorough self-evaluation that applies the relevant CARF standards against the organization’s practices. Once the organization is in conformance to the standards, a request for a CARF survey is submitted at least three full months in advance of the desired date for an on-site survey. By the date of the survey, the provider should be in conformance with the standards for at least six months.
The survey team comprises industry peers who follow a consultative (rather than an inspective) approach in conducting the on-site survey. In addition to interviews of staff, persons served and their families, the surveyors observe organizational practices, review appropriate documentation, answer questions, and suggest ways to improve the provider’s operations and service delivery.
Following completion of the survey, CARF renders an accreditation decision and delivers a report that identifies the service provider’s strengths and areas for improvement and its level of demonstrated conformance to the standards.
To demonstrate its ongoing conformance to the CARF standards, an accredited provider completes a Quality Improvement Plan after receiving the survey report and submits an Annual Conformance to Quality Report each year throughout the accreditation term.
Tips on resolving a complaint with a provider
In becoming accredited by CARF, a provider demonstrates that it focuses on quality improvement, the best possible outcomes of its services, and customer satisfaction.
However, even the best providers will receive a complaint from time to time. If you have a concern about the services you are receiving, you can take several steps.
First, tell a staff member about your concern and ask who can help you resolve it. A CARF-accredited provider pledges to work hard to resolve concerns about its services.
Then, if you are unable to quickly resolve the concern, ask a staff member to tell you how to use the formal complaint/grievance process. A CARF-accredited provider must have a formal complaint/grievance procedure available to the people it serves and other interested persons.
Finally, if you feel your concern is not resolved through the grievance process, you may want to contact the Protection and Advocacy agency in your state, province, or territory. You might also contact the governmental agency that is responsible for licensing the provider to operate, making referrals, or funding the services.
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