JCAHO adopts standards for new Assisted Living Accreditation Program

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, has adopted standards for its new Assisted Living Accreditation Program. The standards were developed in consultation with assisted-living providers and relevant professional trade organizations and consumer advocacy groups. They are based on a set of principles established by a panel of assisted-living experts.

The principles emphasize attention to quality-of-life issues and quality of services provided. The Joint Commission reports that more than 1.15 million people currently are being served by assisted-living programs, in which residents live in homelike settings that provide 24-hour supervision, assistance, activities, and health services. As the population continues to age, that number will continue to grow larger, the Joint Commission predicts.

While many states require licensure of assisted-living communities, there has been no national oversight for assisted-living programs. Standards in the new manual are organized into six functions that address the care of residents and six functions that address the management of assisted-living communities.

Outline of standards

The standards’ functions that address the care of residents are consumer protection, consumer rights and assisted-living community ethics, continuity of service, assessment and reassessment, resident services, and resident education, as well as health and wellness promotion.

Those functions that address the management of the assisted-living community are improving performance, leadership, managing the environment of care, managing human resources, managing information, and the prevention and control of infection.

For assisted-living communities that wish to be accredited, the standards go into effect this month, June. For organizations that already are accredited — such as long-term care facilities or hospitals — and have an assisted-living component, compliance with the Joint Commission’s assisted-living standards is effective beginning in January 2001.

Where to find them

The new assisted-living standards are published on the Joint Commission’s Web site at http://www.jcaho.org/trkhco_frmo.html. The Accreditation Manual for Assisted Living will be published in the fall of 2000. The manual will include the 12 chapters of functions along with standards, intent statements, and scoring. Scoring for the standards includes one or more questions that focus the reader on the performance expectation and the levels of compliance.

The assisted-living community can use the questions to assess its compliance with the standard. The scoring questions include a five-point scoring scale addressing a qualitative or quantitative range of scores.