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Quality in Nursing Center Care

A blog for and about The Joint Commission’s Nursing Care Center Accreditation Program.

Standards Manual for Assisted Living Accreditation Program Available Electronically

05/03/2021

By Debbie Holzer, Project Director, Clinical, Department of Standards and Survey Methods

On July 1, 2021, The Joint Commission will begin accepting applications for a new Assisted Living Communities (ALC) accreditation program. 

We’ll be sharing more information about specific standards for ALCs in the coming weeks (watch this space!) but I wanted to make you aware of a new opportunity to review them. Organizations can now view the program accreditation standards by requesting a free 90-day trial of E-dition®, the electronic standards manual. 

Standards Development Process
The ALC standards were developed with consideration to scientific evidence and best practices, as well as state regulations and Life Safety Codes. 

Experts were actively engaged in a collaborative effort to design standards that align with quality care delivery and safe practices in all aspects of an assisted living community including, but not limited to, the following:

  • geriatrics
  • dementia care
  • rehabilitation
  • infection control
  • senior housing

The ultimate goal of the program is to address the rights of the resident to maintain independence and to receive the care and services needed to promote a high quality of life in a safe environment. This program is built upon the premise that ALCs are homes first and locations of health care delivery second. 

In addition to an extensive internal review of the standards by subject matter experts, The Joint Commission elicited feedback and expert guidance from the following: 

  • Learning Visits: Joint Commission staff visited ALCs to inform standards development. During the learning visits, assisted living leadership and staff answered an expansive list of questions and provided valuable insights that greatly enhanced Joint Commission research.
  • Technical Advisory Panel (TAP): Recognized advocacy organizations in the field of assisted living, geriatrics, dementia care, nursing, senior advocacy, and infection control convened to discuss and provide guidance for the development of the ALC standards. 
  • Standards Advisory Panel and TAP Field Review: A six-week review of the draft standards. Standards Advisory Panel and TAP members were screened and selected based on their level of expertise in assisted living.
  • Public Field Review: A broader six-week review of the draft standards. Participants in the review included clinicians, administrators, and advocate organizations with expansive experience in the ALC setting. Survey participation spanned across 32 states and represented small to large (20 to over 200 bed) ALCs.
  • Pilot Testing: Joint Commission surveyors and standards development staff conducted mock surveys to test the final standards on-site within ALCs. The pilot surveys have allowed organizations to provide feedback on standards compliance and for The Joint Commission to fine tune the survey process.
    Organizations can request the trial version of the standards by visiting www.jointcommission.org/alc

Debbie Holzer RN, is Project Director, Clinical, Department of Standards and Survey Methods at The Joint Commission.