The most critical step in seeking assistance in your pursuit of CARF accreditation is choosing the right CARF accreditation consultant. There are many individuals and companies that claim to be accreditation consultants and this can cause great confusion.
Adding to that confusion, are individuals and groups who claim to be CARF accreditation consultants who's selling point is to demean and slander other accreditation consultants. Viable Solutions will not join in these negative acts. We do offer a few guidelines that will assist you in making the best and safest choice for you.
1. Your CARF accreditation consultant does not have to be a surveyor for the accrediting body. CARF, COA and TJC have codes of conduct that suggest that surveyors avoid consulting conflicts of interest. The most significant conflict is in the development of CARF accreditation materials. In order to be accepted as a surveyor, the individual has to work for an accredited agency. This means that the individual spends the vast majority of their time focusing on only their own organizational information. The surveyor will likely conduct 2-3 surveys a year and that will be the extent of their exposure to other organizations. (See Surveyor Committment on the CARF website.)
2. Is your CARF accreditation consultant a full time or part time consultant? A CARF consultant who participates in accreditation consulting services as their full time occupation will have more invested in the services they provide. These consultants will likely have more experience and have a greater pool of references for an organization to explore.
3. Do your due diligence in getting references to determine the quality and experience of the CARF accreditation consultant. Speak with at least 3 owners/executive directors of organizations that used the consultant to achieve a full accreditation during the past 12-18 months. Confirm that the CARF consultant has expertise in your area of accreditation. Do not let price be the ultimate deciding factor. You need to be sure that the consultant has the track record of working with an organization similar to yours and has successfully assisted them in obtaining accreditation.
4. Confirm that the CARF accreditation consultant owns copyrights to the work that they are attempting to sell to your organization. Some CARF consultants have put together materials that they have been exposed to in their work history. However, these materials may not meet all of the accreditation standards. In addition, this could possibly expose the organization to copyright violations.
5. Make sure that you are comparing similar services. Many CARF accreditation consultants offer guidance services. This will require that the organization complete all of the materials on their own and it will be reviewed by the consultant. Other consultants provide a few policies and some instructions as to how you can complete some of the other required areas of accreditation. These materials alone will not achieve a full CARF accreditation. Some consultants produce documentation for the organization. This will be the more expensive of the services. It is important to make sure that the consultant has a recent track record of success and clients that have achieved full accreditation.
6. It is wise to make sure that your CARF accreditation consultant has the proper professional and academic background. Consultants who are licensed professionals in good standing have licensing and malpractice requirements that discourage any inappropriate business activities and negligent behaviors.
7. After you have compared properly the consultants that provide the services that you desire, take the time to do a comparative analysis as to what it would cost for your agency to create the materials that you are seeking and the price for the consultant to provide the same materials. As a business owner, paying for high quality services can be very cost effective, while paying for substandard services is always expensive.