CARF issues guidelines for health enhancement

Standards go into effect July 1

CARF...The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, has announced new 1997 standards for the accreditation of health enhancement and pediatric family-centered rehabilitation programs.

The standards, part of the 1997 CARF Standards Manual and Interpretive Guidelines for Medical Rehabilitation, go into effect July 1.

The standards were published in January and were discussed for the first time at CARF’s 1997 Standards and Best Practices in Medical Rehabilitation Conference in February.

The health enhancement accreditation standards are designed to take into account the variations that occur when health enhancement programs are offered in varied locations, says Christine M. MacDonell, national director, medical rehabilitation division of CARF, located in Tucson, AZ.

Standards change face of rehabilitation

The health enhancement standards represent both the beginning and end of the rehabilitation continuum of care, MacDonell points out.

Prevention programs can keep people healthy and prevent them from having to enter the formal rehabilitation continuum. After patients complete a rehab program, a health enhancement program can help them learn to adopt a healthy lifestyle, she says.

"There are many organization and programs in the marketplace and as more people become involved, it is important to set a baseline of acceptable program performance to protect all the stakeholders," MacDonell says.

According to the CARF standards, health enhancement programs should be designed to prevent health risks and optimize function, performance, productivity, and quality of life.

Program should address multiple aspects

A health enhancement program’s continuum should address health promotion, nutrition, disease and injury prevention and management, rehabilitation, prevention of secondary conditions, lifestyle management and enhancement, wellness and fitness, and quality of life, MacDonell says.

Programs seeking accreditation should offer a comprehensive range of services and should collect outcomes measures.

The programs should offer services that help participants identify what changes they should make in their lifestyles to remain healthy and to help them accept the responsibility for managing their own health, she adds.

Standards for the Family-Centered Pediatric Program are designed for accreditation of programs that specifically want to be known as a pediatric program, MacDonell says.

CARF has other standards for programs that treat an occasional child or adolescent but are not a designated pediatric program. These are general nondesignated program standards in which the provider demonstrates the ability to deal with child and adolescent rehabilitation needs.

Eight criteria required for accreditation

To be eligible for accreditation as a pediatric family-centered rehab program, a provider must meet eight criteria as follows:

1. Recognize that the family is the constant in the child’s life, while the service systems and personnel within those systems fluctuate.

2. Facilitate parent-professional collaboration at all levels of care.

3. Share unbiased and complete information with the parents about their child’s care on an ongoing basis in an appropriate and supportive manner.

4. Implement appropriate policies and programs that are comprehensive and provide emotional and financial support to meet the needs of families.

5. Recognize family strengths and individuality and respect different methods of coping.

6. Understand and incorporate the developmental needs of infants, children, and adolescents and their families into health care systems.

7. Encourage parent-to-parent support.

8. Ensure the designs of health care delivery systems are flexible, accessible, and responsive to family needs.

Pediatric family-centered programs must serve children with functional limitations as a result of acquired or congenital impairments.

The programs must demonstrate that they are culturally sensitive, interdisciplinary, coordinated, and outcome-focused, MacDonell says.

The standards mandate that each child’s treatment program is individualized and geared toward the child’s age and stage of development.

[Editor’s note: To order a copy of the standards manual or for more information on how to seek accreditation, contact CARF at (520) 325-1044.]