• Kathleen O'Connor

The global pandemic has required us all to re-evaluate our personal and professional lives with a new perspective. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on our world, leaving in its wake: death, permanent disability, loss of livelihoods, a worldwide mental health crisis, and too many tragedies to adequately capture in words. 

While we continue to face these ever-present challenges, we are reminded of how truly connected we are as a global community. While the virus spread rapidly across the globe, so did kindness and the resilience of the human spirit.

Employers are now presented with new opportunities to capitalize on including:

The Employee Experience: Employers can support employees as they navigate through difficult times. There can be a renewed employer willingness to listen to what matters most to employees and an openness to explore modifications to company practices so that employees may successfully emerge from the pandemic with solid physical and emotional health.

Flexibility: Employers can give employees the gift of time to balance their professional responsibilities and personal lives to help alleviate pandemic burnout as well as improve job satisfaction levels.

Prioritizing Employee Wellness: Employers who help employees manage their work-life balance will strengthen their partnerships with employees. Working together to come up with creative solutions to prevent and alleviate burnout will strengthen employees’ immune systems, improve their daily outlook, and equally as important, it will position employees for greater success in meeting clients’ needs.

Remote Workforce Opportunities: Employers have a real opportunity to think bigger. There is an opportunity to cast a wider net globally when searching for employee and business partner talent. Achieve Accreditation is excited to be launching several new staff business partnerships in the coming months across more states, in Mexico, and in England. The world somehow seems smaller thanks to the enhanced acceptance of technologies like Zoom. Other business technology advances also allow us to have virtual real time workspaces, enabling opportunities for collaboration with individuals across the globe to create more creative business solutions. This “wider net” thinking will allow us as a company to strengthen our efforts to be more purposeful in seeking out diversity and inclusion. Companies stand to learn and grow when the work environment fosters the creation of ideas and solutions from a variety of backgrounds.

Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The global pandemic certainly hits the mark for the worst of times. Employers owe it to themselves, their employees, and their clients to look for “pearls of opportunities” to establish positive changes and workplace stability, despite the uncertainty of these difficult times.

Kathleen O’Connor, MA is President & Founder of Achieve Accreditation. Achieve Accreditation has helped skilled nursing providers and assisted living organizations to obtain and maintain their Joint Commission Accreditation for over 30 years.

  • Kathleen O'Connor

Updated: Apr 18

Skilled Nursing Accreditation

Record numbers of skilled nursing providers are seeking Joint Commission Nursing Care Center Accreditation. Yet, there are still surprisingly old myths lurking in the background of this industry movement. The purpose of this article is to dispel the four most common myths that are no longer relevant in the skilled nursing industry.

Myth #1: “Accreditation is not considered a value-added pursuit in today’s skilled

nursing industry.”

Reality: There are compelling reasons why forward-thinking providers are moving towards accreditation now more than ever despite Joint Commission Accreditation

NOT being required for SNFs. Strong industry drivers for SNFs seeking accreditation include:

  • Third party payer mandate requirements (e.g. Illinois Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO) and third party payer mandates in Massachusetts.

  • Higher reimbursement dollars that align accreditation with quality for Medicaid (e.g. Florida).

  • Organizations looking to rebrand (e.g. new owners and executive leadership staff using accreditation readiness efforts for a performance improvement template and/or as a strategy plan for reputation recovery after a disappointing star rating survey).

  • Hospital Post-Acute Network leadership staff continue to openly voice support for Joint Commission Accreditation as they strengthen collaborative relationships with SNFs.

  • “Keeping up with the Jones” mentality in response to accredited organizations seeking a leg up with hospital leadership staff and by utilizing accreditation as differentiator in their brand strategy for census building.

Myth #2: “Let’s power through the accreditation readiness process as quickly as possible.”

Reality: Passing the survey is just one of the benefits experienced by organizations that enter the accreditation readiness process. Organizations that take a broader view than just passing a survey, will experience more significant gains and a longer return on their investment specific to quality, safety, and risk. Achieve Accreditation strongly recommends that organizations allow six to nine months of dedicated preparation time before the initial survey so that the organization can truly benefit from putting in sustainable change as it relates to structures, processes, and outcomes.

Myth #3: “We need to re-write all policies and procedures now that we are planning on seeking Joint Commission Accreditation.”

Reality: Of all the myths this one is the easiest to dispute as it is patently false. The concern with this myth is that it could deter organizations that could otherwise benefit from accreditation from even considering the opportunity. For clarity, The Joint Commission standards and survey process is heavily focused on resident care and the environment of care.

Myth #4: “Our accreditation survey is behind us now. We are accredited!”

Reality: This myth has the potential to be dangerous. The real work of The Joint Commission survey starts AFTER THE SURVEY. While there may be a perceived luxury of time with the three-year resurvey cycle, all accreditation efforts need to be continuously maintained and documented. It is common industry knowledge that The Joint Commission surveyors visit with much higher expectations for compliance in all future resurveys as compared to initial surveys. Achieve Accreditation recommends the following accreditation maintenance strategy POST SURVEY:

  • Create and execute a smart accreditation maintenance plan. This plan should include at a minimum: keeping up with the ongoing annual electronic extranet deadlines and communications with Joint Commission, ongoing standards training for the constant flow of new leadership in our high-turnover industry, staying fully informed on changing standards, intents, and surveyor scoring patterns.

  • Establish an “accreditation project manager.” Protect your time and financial investment by holding firm on the “accreditation project manager’” job scope and measured accountability for the ongoing readiness responsibilities. Be sure that your “accreditation project manager” is not being pulled away to other responsibilities outside the scope of accreditation. The true challenge in achieving success with your accreditation maintenance plan, will be managing your efforts within the context of competing organization priorities.

Kathleen O’Connor, MA President/Founder of Achieve Accreditation is celebrating her 30-year career anniversary assisting skilled nursing providers across the nation with obtaining and maintaining their Joint Commission Accreditation.