By Gina Zimmermann, Executive Director, Assisted Living Accreditation Services
The Joint Commission is now accepting applications for its Assisted Living Communities (ALC) Accreditation Program.
Over the past twenty years, assisted living facilities have been increasingly shifting from a mostly hospitality-based environment to a more health care-focused setting. This shift has highlighted the need for national, consensus-based standards and accreditation for the 28,000+ assisted living facilities serving more than 80,000 individuals in the United States.
During the development of the ALC Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission conducted both qualitative and quantitative research with senior living administrators, residents and caregivers to identify their greatest needs with respect to quality and safety. Emerging from this research were the topics most critical to providers and their residents.
Validation of High Quality Care
In this research, participants noted the need for distinction between multiple providers in the marketplace. Especially as COVID-19 continues to evolve, patients and families reported that they are more willing to visit and tour a facility that is accredited, since accreditation is perceived to demonstrate dedication to a higher standard of care.
Quality of Care
Both providers and residents want to ensure that quality and safety are at the forefront of the care delivery process. The new ALC resident-centered standards examine the environment of care, medication management, rights of the individual and more to help assess an assisted living facility’s ability to provide collaborative care in a safe, functional and respectful environment.
ALCs will be required to report on standardized performance measures addressing topics critical to a resident’s quality of life, including:
- anti-psychotic drug use
- resident falls
- resident goals of care
- advanced care plans
Staff Competency and Retention
There are significant concerns from providers and residents related to staffing and competency of staff in the assisted living setting. In addition to reviewing the staff qualifications process, Joint Commission standards incorporate safety culture guidelines to encourage staff engagement and empowerment to help increase staff satisfaction and reduce staff turnover.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, ALCs are looking for guidance to help prepare for and manage emergency situations and avoid adverse events. Our standards address areas such as emergency management and infection prevention and control to offer effective guidelines for identifying and mitigating risks that could impact resident care, treatment and services.
State Recognition of ALC Accreditation
Some states are already recognizing Joint Commission accreditation towards renewal of licensure – a huge timesaver and immediate reduction of burden for ALCs that can forego their state survey when achieving Joint Commission accreditation.
Currently, these states are accepting Joint Commission ALC accreditation in lieu of a state licensure survey:
- Washington, D.C.
Additionally, approval is pending to use Joint Commission ALC accreditation towards the renewal of state licensure in Idaho, Iowa and Texas, and there are several other states with recognition in the works.
Application Process and Special Pricing Initiatives
The Joint Commission is currently accepting applications for the ALC Accreditation Program. We’ve been pleased to see a positive response with one organization submitting its application on the first day registration launched!
Discount incentives are available for applicants that submit an application in 2021. Organizations with completed applications by September 30, earn 20% off annual fees for their first 3-year accreditation cycle. Applicants from October 1 - December 31, earn 15% off annual fees for their first 3-year accreditation cycle.
While applications must be submitted in 2021 to receive the discount, organizations have up to a full year to commit to a survey date. In fact, applicants can indicate their 'ready' month for survey as well as specify ‘blackout’ dates their assisted living facility cannot participate in a survey.
I encourage you to take advantage of our many complimentary resources to learn more about the ALC Accreditation Program:
If your organization is ready to apply, please visit our website to begin the application process.
Questions? Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Gina Zimmermann is the Executive Director for Nursing Care Center and Assisted Living Community Services. In this role, she oversees the strategic direction and performance of the Nursing Care Center Accreditation Program and The Joint Commission’s new Assisted Living Community Accreditation Program.