Accreditation is one factor worth considering when deciding which nursing home to choose for yourself or a loved one. In this article, we’ll define the term “accreditation” and explain its connection to nursing home abuse. 

Key Takeaways

  • Accreditation is a formal, independent process of verification of an institution or program’s ability to meet established quality standards
  • Many organizations responsible for public welfare seek accreditation to prove their competence and reliability, including nursing homes
  • Only 6% of U.S. nursing homes are accredited
  • Studies show that accredited nursing homes perform better than non-accredited facilities on multiple measures including having lower rates of substantiated nursing home abuse allegations

What Is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of formal, independent verification that an institution or program meets established quality standards and is able to successfully pass assessments such as testing, inspection, and certification. This process has been used for over 50 years and is now seen as one of the most definitive ways to evaluate organizations. 

Certain types of organizations such as laboratories, certification agencies, and inspection bodies are required to be accredited by government regulatory agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in order to verify technical competence. Organizations that are responsible for public health and safety such as hospitals, schools, police departments, and fire departments also often seek accreditation to prove their competence and reliability. 

Accreditation and Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes are one of the types of institutions that may seek accreditation. It is a voluntary process; nursing homes do not have to be accredited to accept residents. Indeed, of the over 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, the Joint Commission reports that only about 900 are accredited, a total of 6%. 

While the scarcity of accredited nursing homes may make them more difficult to find, it may still be worthwhile to seek them out, as these organizations are held to higher standards of care and safety. This means that the risk of nursing home abuse may be lower at an accredited nursing home.

In fact, studies have shown that nursing homes with Joint Commission accreditation have performed better than non-accredited facilities, including having fewer Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) deficiency citations, fewer complaints, and perhaps most importantly, fewer substantiated abuse allegations.

While there is no way to guarantee that you or your loved one will be able to avoid nursing home abuse entirely by choosing an accredited organization, the data does seem to suggest that it will be a safer choice than going with one of the many non-accredited nursing homes. At any rate, it is highly recommended to put in the extra effort required to carefully vet the nursing homes you are looking at, knowing that accreditation is one factor to consider.

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