CARF’s specialty standards for older adults address the coming demographic shift among persons served

The new behavioral health standards are an optional add-on to core accredited programs

Addressing the forthcoming increase in the senior population that will need behavioral healthcare services, CARF International has released accreditation standards for programs treating older adults. CARF’s Older Adults standards are in the newly published 2015 Behavioral Health Standards Manual.

The Older Adults standards are what CARF calls a specific population designation. Organizations that wish to be recognized as having expertise in the needs of a specific population have the option to add specific population designation standards to their survey. Organizations seeking accreditation under the Older Adults standards must tailor their services to the particular needs and preferences of older adults and their families/support systems. Services must be provided in environments appropriate for older adults, and personnel must be trained to effectively address their complex needs.

“We recognize that the treatment of older adults with behavioral healthcare needs requires special attention,” says Michael Johnson, CARF’s managing director for behavioral health. “As people age, they sometimes experience behavioral healthcare needs for the first time in their lives and, although this population is often underserved now, the demographic shift in our population will demand organizations meet their needs. We want to make sure that the needs of this population are addressed through specialty standards that focus on care coordination, training, and attention to their unique family circumstances. Having an Older Adults designation should help both persons served and organizations match up with each other for the benefit of both.”

The Older Adults standards were drafted by an International Standards Advisory Committee (ISAC) that included representatives from Fresno County Behavioral Health; Arbour Elder Services; Portland VA Medical Center; Parkwood Hospital; Telecare Corporation; La Frontera Center; Adult Well-Being Services; University of Texas at Arlington; Telecare Older Adults FSP & FCCS; City of Mississauga, Older Adults; Florida International University; Eldercare Services Institute, LLC; and Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. CARF’s aging services unit also provided expert insight into the older adults population.

Prior to adoption, CARF submitted the standards to its International Advisory Council (IAC) for review. CARF also conducted a public field review to invite comments from interested professionals and persons served and their families. CARF’s leadership in framing standards is backed by its 49-year history of accrediting health and human services.