Accreditation can help behavioral health and addiction treatment providers demonstrate high industry standards and stand out in the market. Patients and loved ones seeking appropriate providers can use accreditation as a sign of quality to help them make the best decision.
Not all accreditation is the same, however. Most providers have their choice of several accreditation groups. Here is what providers can expect when seeking accreditation by CARF International.
History of CARF International Accreditation
Founded in 1966 and based in Tucson, Ariz., the non-profit CARF International aims to survey and accredit human-service organizations. Besides addiction treatment and behavioral health facilities, CARF also accredits providers related to aging services, child and youth services, and durable medical equipment.
Process of CARF Accreditation
Organizations that intend to seek CARF accreditation should expect the process to require at least 6-9 months of preparation. The first step is to obtain a copy of CARF’s most recent standards manual. These manuals are updated each year.
After obtaining and reviewing the manual, providers should then consult with a designated CARF resource specialist to receive guidance for the accreditation process.
Before CARF conducts a survey of the provider, the applicant should conduct their own self-evaluation of how they meet current CARF standards. They should then submit a survey application to CARF with details about their services and facilities. The provider is then charged a CARF survey fee.
CARF chooses members of its survey team based on their expertise and the applicant’s needs. This survey team examines the applicant, observes its services, interviews patients, and reviews documentation. In addition, the survey team offers consultation to facility staff.
Based on the findings, CARF will issue either 3-year accreditation, 1-year accreditation, provisional accreditation, or no accreditation. CARF usually sends its decision within 6-8 weeks of completing the survey, along with a report and Quality Improvement Plan (QIP).
Within 90 days of receiving the decision, the applicant must then submit a QIP with the actions it will take to improve any areas noted in CARF’s report. If the provider received accreditation, it must also submit a signed Annual Conformance to Quality Report each year.
Once accredited, CARF encourages providers to contact the organization if they need help in maintaining its standards.
Benefits of CARF Accreditation
The primary benefit of CARF accreditation that it helps a facility raise and implement CARF’s high standards. The survey is an ideal way for providers to learn how to improve their services and facilities.
Once accredited, providers are eligible for further benefits. This includes continued education opportunities, such as the CARF Surveyor Continuing Education Conference and Winter Transforming Outcomes Institute.
CARF also provides ongoing communications, including newsletters and other news announcements, and updates to their standards as needed. Earlier this year, CARF hosted an International Standards Advisory Committee (ISAC) to discuss possible updates to technology standards in CARF’s ASPIRE to Excellence framework. At another meeting, an ISAC began work on new standards for Medication Assisted Treatment Programs.
Accreditation can be a lengthy, involved process, but it provides numerous benefits to behavioral health providers, as well as patients and other consumers. To learn more about CARF International accreditation, visit the CARF website.