Many organizations still hire a consultant even though they have been successful in the past with their CARF surveys – even when the last few surveys have resulted in a three-year accreditation outcome. The form of consulting under these circumstances is typically short-term. It may make sense to do a mock survey in order to get ready. In other cases, it may just be a matter of a few hours of consulting to verify that changes that have occurred within the organization since the last CARF survey are still meeting the standards.
The purpose of CARF is to emphasize and encourage best practices within the operations of the organization as it relates to both business practices and services delivery. In some cases, these practices are developed by the creativity and genius of the organizations themselves. Other times, best practices are taught at conferences or through the professional relationships with other providers. However, an excellent resource is CARF consultants and the CARF surveyors. Such professionals have visited many providers and have witnessed firsthand practical and effective means to do business and meet the standards.
Another reason an organization might hire a consultant even though it is a strong organization is that the standards change each year. That is the result of ever changing demands and expectations of providers. As new concepts are introduced, they are integrated into the CARF standards.
In many cases, there has been staff turnover of key positions between surveys. This is especially true when there has been a change in leadership. The new replacements may not be aware of the CARF standards or may not be able to anticipate the type of questions that might be asked during the survey. Practice interviews will help prepare persons and give them confidence.
During the survey itself, it is sometimes advantageous to have a consult available to answer questions as they arise. It is not too uncommon for there to be miscommunications between what the CARF surveyor is seeking and what an organization thinks they are looking or asking for. Such misunderstandings can easily be addressed thus avoiding a potential recommendation.
At the Accreditation Consulting Group (ACG) all of our consultants are currently CARF surveyors who each have at least 10 years of experience as a surveyor. They are excellent resources for examples of best practices and are knowledgeable of efficient ways of meeting the standards.