Mark Hassemer

Dear Friends of ACT:

Okay everyone. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

CARF was here last week, and now they’re gone.

CARF International (www.CARF.org) is an independent, nonprofit accreditation organization focused on advancing the quality of services ACT and other agencies provide to meet the needs of persons served. Three surveyors visited us for three days to evaluate our operations against their accreditation standards.

It went well. It went very well. That’s a reflection on the fact that we are not new to this process. That was evident in the opening session at which we, managers and administrators, introduced ourselves and said how long we’ve worked at ACT or been in this business.

It was also evident at the exit conference when a surveyor acknowledged our veteran team, noting that some staff have been at ACT for many, many, many years. (Was she looking at me, or someone sitting behind me?)

The CARF review is a peer review process. The surveyors are like us, people who work in this field at organizations like ACT. CARF provides training for reviewers and then contracts with them to do surveys.

Our surveyors, Anita, Mike, and Denise, didn’t tell us the outcome of their review. They can’t. They submit a report to CARF. Then CARF makes the decision. We’ll know in a few weeks.

There are three possible outcomes: a three-year accreditation, a one-year accreditation, or non-accreditation.

We expect three years. I don’t say this out of arrogance. I’m just confident in my colleagues who worked so hard to prepare for this accreditation visit. They prepared nearly thirty thousand files, saved in electronic format (thank goodness), for the review.

In addition to the file review the surveyors talked to stakeholders, including our Board President and people from funding and referral agencies. They visited with individuals served, their families, and guardians. They went to employment sites and homes where we provide services. It was a busy three days. They had to be efficient.

This was my, and ACT’s, eleventh survey. The first was back in 1987. We received a three-year accreditation award then and we’ve never gotten anything else since.

During the first, and perhaps other early surveys, the ink was still wet on some policies and procedures we put in place. We were finding our way. That’s not the case anymore.

ACT has used CARF standards to improve the services we provide by incorporating them into our everyday systems and processes.

The standards alone can’t guarantee an organization won’t have challenges. But they provide a strong framework for effectively dealing with the many issues we face.

So now what? How about Food Truck Friday?

It was definitely time for a celebration. Last Friday we arranged to have one of the area food trucks park in our lot and serve lunch to employees, individuals we support, and anyone who ventured by for some good food.

One of our values is celebrating successes. So we did it…with food and laughter. It was great fun.

Until next month,

Mark