Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to earn accreditation, which affirms that you meet designated national industry standards, and that you are focused on supporting your staff, organization-wide continuous improvement and most importantly, supporting positive outcomes for those in your care. You and your colleagues celebrated the achievement and have now returned to your daily routines with renewed vigor.
It’s easy to forget, however, that the countdown to reaccreditation begins the day you achieve your goal. Depending on the accrediting body, your organization will go through a reaccreditation review every 3 or 4 years and you will be required to submit annual accreditation reports. Complicating matters, accreditation standards are generally updated annually.
Here’s the good news: With an accreditation maintenance plan – your organization can and should experience the initial accreditation effort as the ‘heaviest lift’. In other words, by taking a few simple steps, reaccreditation should not be as time consuming or detailed as the initial accreditation process.
Maintenance can be as easy as a periodic check in or a more thorough review of standards. Either way, the goal is to ensure the appropriate documentation is gathered along the way, rather than scramble to get everything together when the deadline approaches
Of course, every organization has different needs, so AG has developed a few different Accreditation Maintenance Plans to meet those needs. Some agencies find that a few hours of focus per quarter at their discretion is enough to allow questions to be answered and updates reviewed, others prefer a more scheduled check in, and standards updates that we track on their behalf. Whatever the need, we have found that given the time and resources spent achieving this initial distinction, working to proactively maintain accreditation for the long term will not only continue to strengthen your organization’s operations but it will improve services as it makes the reaccreditation process more efficient and effortless.
The bottom line: The key to continued achievement is to establish a pattern of maintenance in your organization with continued focus on the overall implementation of accreditation standards, including client safety, risk management and performance and quality improvement.
Here are some ideas to consider when thinking about accreditation maintenance:
- An effective and sustainable performance and quality improvement program must be clearly demonstrated as an ongoing part of the agency’s operations from year to year.
- Best practices include sharing quarterly and annual performance summary reports with staff and board members. Annually sharing key performance metrics with various stakeholder groups to demonstrate increased transparency and open communications should also be considered.
- An annual calendar of accreditation milestones helps keep your organization on track for reaccreditation and provides a solid review of the progress you’ve made to proactively prepare for the process.
If your organization needs help establishing or maintaining any of the accreditation standards or implementing ideas noted above, Accreditation Guru can help. We place an emphasis on performance and quality improvement, risk management, annual reporting requirements, and updates to standards as they pertain specifically to your organization. Check out our plans here or contact us directly for more information.