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Joint Commission to Launch Nursing & Rehab Center Accreditation Program

The Joint Commission on Jan. 7 announced its new Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation program, and for the first time is offering a Rehabilitation and Advanced Care Certification option.

The Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation program, which replaces the Long Term Care Accreditation program, is designed to help providers achieve, maintain and demonstrate excellence in the services they provide.

Both the accreditation program and certification option are the products of a year-long reinvention project which gathered input from consumers, providers, payers and other stakeholders.

The reinvented standards, survey process and certification option will be effective July 1.

"Studies show that long-term care organizations are providing more complex care to their patients and residents than in the past, and they are seeking ways to meet increasing demands for quality oversight. The [new] program uses a patient- and resident-centered quality framework and collaborative evaluation services to help them meet these demands," says Gina Zimmermann, MS, executive director ofthe new center.

"The program will help nursing facility leaders proactively identify vulnerabilities to safeguard patients and residents," she adds. "It can also help them to minimize the risk of readmissions from nursing homes to hospitals and other care providers."

The certification option recognizes the more advanced  rehabilitation services provided to patients  in nursing and rehabilitation centers, while continuing to elevate the quality of care provided to all those served within their organization.

The certification is separate from the Joint Commission's Disease Specific Care (DSC) certification program. Unlike the DSC program, the review is conducted at the same time as the accreditation survey using the same surveyors, and has a 3-year cycle.         

An overview of the enhancements includes:

  • Standards: Reflect a foundational set of requirements focused on key care processes that contribute to improved outcomes for all patients and residents in nursing facilities. New standards have been added to address person- and resident-centered care and the cultural transformation away from institutionalized care within the industry.
  • Certification of specialized services: This additional distinction will allow organizations to validate and better distinguish the caliber of their rehabilitation and advanced care capabilities to hospital and health system networks, other care providers, Accountable Care Organizations, payers, and the public. Organizations will be required to meet the accreditation requirements in order to seek the new certification.
  • On-site survey: All surveys will include additional patient and system tracer time to better identify potential risk areas as well as high performing areas. There will also be increased learning opportunities for internal staff and leadership. Surveys that include accreditation with certification will include a dedicated "Transition of Care" session.
  • Surveyors: Personnel conducting the on-site surveys have been specially trained and have experience in the specialty certification area.
  • Accreditation manual: Redesigned as a workbook that includes the reinvented standards and additional features to support overall performance improvement, including "tracer prompts" to help prepare internal staff for expected on-site activities, and documentation checklists to help organize and prioritize written materials.

Prepublication standards for the accreditation and certification options are available on the Joint Commission's website at

Beginning in February, educational webinars and teleconferences will be provided to give customers an overview of program enhancements. Programming will also be provided for individuals and organizations new to the accreditation process.

For more information about Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation, or the Rehabilitation and Advanced Care Certification option, call 630-792-5020 or

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