Updated: Jan 12
The Achieve Accreditation Story: An interview with Kathleen O’Connor, MA President & Founder of Achieve Accreditation by Jessica Prucha, BAJ Achieve Accreditation Brand Storyteller.
Jessica Prucha: What inspired you to launch Achieve Accreditation?
Kathleen O’Connor: The inspiration for Achieve Accreditation actually started as a seed in my brain, planted by an undergraduate professor over 35 years ago. I was assigned the task to research a company that I might want to work for after graduation. I stumbled upon The Joint Commission in my research, and I was inspired to learn more. Once I discovered an organization that had an entire mission dedicated to continuous quality improvement, I was hooked. This research project eventually led to a career at The Joint Commission lasting almost a decade, where I was fortunate enough to assist in the development of The Joint Commission standards and survey process, train Joint Commission surveyors, and lecture nationally on accreditation as a representative of The Joint Commission. I will also be forever thankful for the great support provided to me by The Joint Commission in obtaining my master’s degree in Gerontology. My next big career calling came in the form of an initial internal whisper and then a louder voice within me that I could not ignore. I had a great urge to bring the best practices learned during my tenure at The Joint Commission to grow performance improvement initiatives in the senior living industry. This journey eventually led me to launch Achieve Accreditation. Many people say that one good teacher can really change your life, in my case that was certainly true. My professor ended up greatly influencing the entire trajectory of my career path by simply pointing me in the right direction.
Jessica Prucha: What have been the surprises and new trends that you have witnessed specific to Joint Commission Nursing Care Accreditation in the last three decades?
Kathleen O’Connor: The rapid growth of skilled nursing providers seeking accreditation has been a welcomed surprise. The increasing number of third-party payors recognizing accreditation, as well as states aligning Medicaid reimbursement incentives with accreditation, is definitely trending up. This trend benefits both providers and residents when quality is upheld to be both recognized and celebrated.
Jessica Prucha: What are some of the memories that stand out most in your mind over the last 30 years in the field of Joint Commission Accreditation?
Kathleen O’Connor: I have thousands of memories of Joint Commission surveys and the difficult but worthwhile preparation work involved. It has been an extremely rewarding aspect of my career to be in a constant learning environment when working with colleagues and client partners. This keeps the work super fresh. The strong colleague relationships and friendships that I have developed are certainly icing on the cake of an over 30-year career in accreditation. There is a funny memory that has stuck with many of our client partners over the decades and is often brought up when reminiscing with colleagues. Specifically, when my daughter Claire was young, she and I volunteered throughout the month of March for many years. We brought our two Shih Tzus, Shamrock and Finnegan, who were dyed green for the St. Patrick’s Day season, to visit both residents and staff on weekends. I am always amazed how many people still talk about this memory on a regular basis. It really drives home the point that it is the “little things” in life that people actually remember the most.
Jessica Prucha: What excites you the most when you look toward Achieve Accreditation’s future?
Kathleen O’Connor: I am excited for the great privilege to be a part of our client partners’ continual performance improvement journeys. I am thrilled to share my career life with the incredibly professional, supportive, and collaborative Achieve Accreditation team. I am overjoyed to be once again helping assisted living providers obtain accreditation. We are super energized as a team to continue to grow our Achieve Accreditation brand nationally and to be a part of the senior living industry’s performance improvement journey on a wider scale.
Jessica Prucha, BAJ is the Brand Storyteller at 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.