February 16, 2019
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How are Hospices Accredited?

Many individuals pursuing a career in the sphere of healthcare may be curious about how hospices are accredited. In addition to exploring the function of these centers for end of life care, the article below will offer some insight into the licensing and accreditation of hospice care facilities in the United States.

Related resource: Top 35 Small Colleges for a Master’s in Healthcare Management Degree

Why Accreditation is Vital

End of life care is the primary function of any hospice. This period is far from static for many patients, and hospices provide comfort for patients of any age. Generally speaking, they function in many of the ways that hospitals do but give support to patients and family members with a less sterile-feeling, gentler environment. Additionally, these spaces are often intended for patients suffering from terminal illness, who would not benefit from an extended stay in a hospital, and whose needs require a period of care that cannot be easily defined.

Hospice accreditation is paramount because those charged with the care and comfort of patients must have the qualifications of medical professionals as well as the resources essential to fulfill their duties. Professionals whose tasks include appropriate and compassionate financial consultation, billing, and even comfort to family members may also be employed. Therefore, it’s vital that these spaces meet or exceed established standards tailored to their function.

The Details Entailed

The accreditation process for hospice facilities has national standards but is often administered by organizations that operate on a state level. This dual point of view essential provides a tighter or more need-focused application of general guidelines. It also takes into account state laws that require additional rigor or excellence above the general federal requirements.

According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), there are three large accreditation organizations for hospice centers in the United States. The Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC), Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations are each empowered to administer licensure to hospices in accordance with independently established discipline-specific standards of care provision and federal law.

Because hospice care is also considered a business, these organizations created a standardized application and assessment process to ensure the highest quality of care and ethical treatment. Typically, those wishing to start a hospice facility or to re-certify their healthcare organization must first submit the appropriate application. Once this is completed and accepted, a contract or licensing agreement is reviewed and agreed upon by both parties.

Because establishments that provide hospice services must continuously adjust to the demands and circumstances of healthcare standards, training and re-certification needs of employees, and patient requirements, self-assessment tools are essential. Most certification processes emphasize the need for internal review and maintenance structures as a means to ease assessment visits by organization inspectors.

The self-review mechanism, of which the design is up to the individual business or caregiving facility, permits a fine-grained analysis of conditions, needs, and even interactional dynamics between various groups—employees, patients, and family members—on a daily basis. Issues that arise may be succinctly addressed, and management may even prevent problems or improve standards before the need grows apparent. It also makes individual care facilities resilient and responsive to organizations inspections.

From the initial application to the final inspection, accreditation is a process that is meant to ensure the highest standard of care for those with terminal conditions. Because it incorporates internal assessments, it remains flexible in the face of shifting healthcare regulations at the national level. The accreditation process for hospice providers ensures that those providers continue to meet or exceed the needs of patients and their loved ones while maintaining sound business practices for their employees.