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4 Myths vs. Realities for SNF Accreditation

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

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.


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