The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is the organization that establishes standards by which addiction treatment facilities can be assessed. It also provides review services to ensure the standards are being met. CARF is a non-profit commission that functions globally.1

CARF Standards

CARF standards have been implemented and amended over 50 years by healthcare providers, client family members, client feedback and policy makers. Public input has also been used to ensure the standards are relevant.

Starting the Process

A healthcare service provider that wants to achieve CARF accreditation will normally undertake a self-evaluation to see how their current standards compare with those of CARF. The provider will then initiate a program of change to meet CARF standards where necessary.2

When a provider feels that it meets CARF standards, it can apply for accreditation. Candidates undergo a CARF review and must submit an application three months before the date on which it wants the CARF on-site review or survey to take place. CARF requires that providers have been meeting standards for a minimum of six months before the on-site survey takes place.

On-Site Survey

The survey takes the form of a consultation, rather than an inspection. A team of industry peers conducts the survey. The team interviews staff members as well as present or former clients and their families. The survey team also examines organizational practices and relevant documentation.

Man and woman sitting across from each other at a table The team will be prepared to answer accreditation and procedural questions posed by the provider’s staff. It will also make recommendations on how the provider can improve service delivery and operational practices.

The results of the survey are presented to the provider in a report, together with the decision on accreditation. The report identifies areas that need improvement or modification, and it also identifies positive aspects and how well the provider’s facility conforms to CARF standards. Accredited providers then complete a quality improvement plan and submit an annual conformance to quality report.

Benefits to Clients

Clients seeking addiction treatment should check to see if the organization they are planning to use has CARF accreditation. This is the best way to be sure that a rehab facility provides quality services.

Anyone can open an addiction treatment center, even if they don’t possess the professional qualifications or training necessary to successfully treat patients. Each rehab facility can design its own treatment programs, and some programs are unconventional to say the least.

Such programs are rarely evaluated in any meaningful fashion, so there is no way for potential clients to assess the likely outcome of participating in the programs offered. Even where facilities offer standard therapy and treatment programs, without accreditation it is impossible to know whether the programs and services are delivered in a professional and clinically rigorous manner.

Facilities with CARF accreditation, on the other hand, will provide established, quality programs that have been proven to help people recover. By opting for an addiction treatment facility with CARF accreditation, people needing rehab can be assured of getting the very best levels of care.

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