At AK Child & Family, we place a high standard on the quality of care we provide for the children and families in our programs. Because of this, we took he steps to become accredited through the Joint Commission in November of 1990, and have maintained that accreditation ever since.
In Behavioral Health, there are many systems in place that regulate the services we provide to families and youth in our care. Our main regulatory body is the State of Alaska which provides our license. Licensure involves a process where governmental authority grants permission (usually following inspection against set state and federal standards) to allow an organization to operate. The inspection process ensures that we are meeting minimal requirements of quality and safety for the youth in our care.
Accreditation from the Joint Commission takes it a step further. Accreditation is voluntary and requires us to meet an even higher level of standards. By pursuing and maintaining accreditation our organization is saying that we are willing to go beyond the minimal quality and safety indicators and will work harder to demonstrate quality and safety at the highest level. By voluntarily subscribing to the accreditation process, we have agreed to comply with pre-established, peer reviewed standards that reflect high performance expectations. The Joint Commission Certificate on our wall indicates a “symbol of quality” and a commitment to consumer care.
By committing to these standards we also commit to additional inspections (or in Joint Commission language, “surveys”) in order to maintain our accreditation. These happen in 3 year cycles, during which Joint Commission representatives trace the steps of a youth in care from intake to discharge in an effort to review our processes. This can include reviewing documentation, asking staff how they address different treatment objectives, observing medication administration, or asking where the fire exits are. The scope of the survey includes all aspects of treatment from paperwork to living environment to care delivery.
The impact of accreditation on the quality of our services is most apparent in our structure of care. Accreditation provides us with a framework for staff education, serves as a guide for performance improvement, and addresses safety issues and ethics. Joint Commission accreditation builds community confidence in our program because it shows that we are committed to excellence in quality care. This in turn makes us a provider of choice for many referring agencies and families and helps us maintain State, Federal and Medicaid licensing requirements.
As employees of AK Child & Family, we all agree to work within the quality and safety standards of the Joint Commission. We do this every day by following policy and procedures as they are written, maintaining trainings, and communicating openly about areas of concern or improvement to co-workers and supervisors. We are all responsible for maintaining our accreditation and providing quality services to the youth and families we serve.
To learn more about our Joint Commission Accreditation, you can go directly to the Joint Commission website.