The Joint Commission recently announced that its long-standing Long Term Care accreditation program will be replaced by a new Nursing and Rehabilitation Center accreditation program effective July 1, 2013. In addition, The Joint Commission will now also offer a certification option for facilities that provide advanced rehabilitation services. The revamped accreditation is a result of a year-long project that weighed the input of consumers, providers and other stakeholders.

Gina Zimmermann, M.S., executive director of Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation for The Joint Commission, said in a statement, "The [new] program will help nursing facility leaders proactively identify vulnerabilities to safeguard patients and residents.” She also says the changes will help organizations “…to minimize the risk of readmissions from nursing homes to hospitals and other care providers."

What you need to know:

  1. The new program and the certification option include the addition of new standards. Prepublication standards are available on The Joint Commission website at
  2. You’ll need to meet the accreditation requirements in order to apply for certification. Certification and accreditation will be done simultaneously (on a three-year cycle).
  3. The accreditation manual has been redesigned as a workbook with tracer prompts and documentation checklists to help you prepare for a survey.
  4. Surveys will now include more tracer time. Accreditation with certification will also include a session on “Transition of Care.”

As indicated in RehabCare’s white paper titled Optimizing the Performance of a Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation Department, rehab teams should be actively involved in the accreditation process. Knowing and complying with accreditation requirements is an essential function of any rehab department or facility.

For more information about Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Accreditation or the Rehabilitation and Advanced Care Certification option, call 630-792-5020 or e-mail

By Margaret Schmidt