Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) has developed a palliative care accreditation program for which community-based providers are eligible. The program is available to any organization that offers “a robust palliative care program,” the organization indicated.
The program’s accreditation standards are based on the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care. The consensus project is an initiative of the National Coalition for Hospice & Palliative Care.
“Many of our accredited provider organizations offered palliative care for their patients and often, the palliative care service was structured as a temporary bridge to a more developed hospice program,” ACHC told Hospice News in an email. “Other organizations took a very different approach by admitting patients specifically to their palliative care service with no expectation that they would move to another level of service. These specialty programs dictated the development of Palliative Care Accreditation.”
About 50% of community-based palliative care providers in the United States are hospices, according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Hospice providers nationwide have been working to diversify their service lines to extend beyond the expected last six months of life, with palliative care as the most common new offering.
Community-based providers that offer palliative care in the home are eligible to receive accreditation, according to ACHC. The program has a three-year accreditation cycle, and surveys last one day. Virtual surveys are now an option due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization also offers a Distinction in Palliative Care certification program to organizations accredited for home health, hospice or private duty services. This program is to recognize organizations that provide palliative care as a bridge to hospice or other service.
Eligible providers must have at least five palliative care patients, with a minimum of three receiving services at the time of survey. The program is non-deemed because Medicare has not developed comparable palliative care standards. The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services gives some accreditors deeming authority to certify that a health care provider is in compliance with the agency’s requirements.
Other accreditation bodies offer certifications for palliative that stop short of full accreditation, including The Joint Commission and Community Health Accreditation Partners.
“Palliative care is emerging as an effective way to help seriously ill patients address symptoms and maximize their quality of life,” said Barbara Provini, ACHC Program Manager. “It is quickly spreading from hospital-based care to outpatient community-based providers, offering more options for patients. Achieving accreditation enables palliative care programs to certify they are providing safe, quality care backed by national standards.”