Congratulations to the hospital’s inpatient rehabilitation program for receiving 3-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) – the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization by CARF (an independent, nonprofit accrediting body for a variety of health and human services providers).
“CARF accreditation recognizes our dedication to providing the highest quality care for patients as they recover from serious illness or injury,” said Sharon Maley, MSN, RN, nurse program coordinator for inpatient rehabilitation. “As a team, we’re committed to providing our patients with a safe environment that fosters independence, restores their confidence and promotes strength and determination.”
Sharon led the rehab department’s efforts to become accredited by learning about CARF’s standards and educating rehab and transitional care unit staff.
“We did a site visit to Atlanta Children’s and Cincinnati Children’s to learn more about the process,” said Sharon. “We assembled a CARF committee to review the hundreds of standards we would be held to over bi-monthly meetings for 6 months. We needed to be in conformance with all the standards for 6 months before we could submit our application for a survey.”
Sharon says the process of preparing, submitting the application, completing the survey and awaiting results took nearly 2 years. To prepare for accreditation, staff reviewed processes and policies, and created new processes, policies or standard work instructions where gaps were found.
“We were doing most everything that was expected of us and our program, but we just needed to be able to speak to it and show the documentation to support how we were meeting the standards,” said Sharon.
CARF accreditation is significant because there are only 33 accredited pediatric specialty programs for medical rehabilitation in the United States, 4 of which happen to be in Ohio.
“The people we serve have options, so, it shows our commitment and consistent efforts to improve the quality of our program, our services, and our ongoing pursuit of excellence to provide a continuum of care right here in our own community,” said Sharon. “It allows our families to stay close to their families and friends, providing support in such a difficult, and often life-changing, time.”
One of the areas that stood out to CARF surveyors was the variety of recreation, psychosocial and therapeutic activities offered at Children’s.
“Art and music therapy are both available through the Expressive Therapy Center,” said Sharon. “The surveyors cited our use of therapy dogs (Doggie Brigade) as an innovative way to enhance the therapy programs to motivate the children and make therapy fun.”
Surveyors also called out the department’s dynamic, motivated and energetic clinicians who function as a cohesive team to foster ongoing communication and family involvement from the beginning of care.
“We hold family meetings within 7 days of admission and then throughout the stay which allows for early involvement of the family in the rehabilitation process and clarification of expectations,” said Sharon. “It’s important to us to include the family in the team process, because these family meetings serve as team meetings.”
While most of the news was positive, Sharon acknowledges that nothing is perfect, and part of the accreditation process includes recommendations on how to improve.
“We will use the recommendations to strengthen our strategic plan,” she said. “CARF also strongly supports performance measurement, management and improvement to constantly monitor our performance to position ourselves to make changes and improve outcomes. We have taken the initiative to put together a PI committee to look at the data we collect and use this data to make meaningful changes for our patients, families and staff.”