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CARF introduces medically fragile population designation to its community services standards

Service providers can earn accreditation for the designation after June 30

Tucson, AZ -- March 5, 2010 -- Responding to the needs of community service organizations, CARF International introduced standards for programs serving medically fragile persons in employment and community services settings.

Standards for the specific population designation are in the recently published 2010 Employment and Community Services Standards Manual. This edition of the standards manual will be applied on CARF surveys conducted after June 30 this year.

"Children and adults with severe illnesses or chronic health conditions can look forward to longer and more fulfilling lives, thanks to advances in medicine and technology," said Brian J. Boon, Ph.D., CARF president/CEO. "CARF's new standards are crafted to ensure organizations serving persons with concurrent medical issues consider these factors in their day-to-day services."

CARF developed the standards over three years with input from parents, researchers, and concerned professionals. CARF's leadership in framing these standards is backed by its 44-year history of accrediting health and human services on five continents.

Initially responding to the needs of service providers in Toronto's Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth, CARF Canada drafted the medically fragile population designation standards. CARF brought the group's original recommendations forward to an International Standards Advisory Committee (ISAC). CARF's approach to an inclusive standards development process culminated in a broad field review prior to the standards' implementation.

All participants in the standards' development represented experience and concern for enhancing the quality of community services and supports for medically fragile individuals, many of whom have received services for their disability since birth.

"The new CARF standards help community organizations design services to assist people with medically fragile conditions to live in the community," said Paul Andrew, managing director of CARF's Employment and Community Services customer service unit. "Persons with these needs require overall care planning to achieve optimum health and integration into the community."

Andrew cited two expected results of the new CARF standards:

  • Development of community networks that will improve access to therapies, medical supports, and guidance.
  • Choices for the persons served to pursue meaningful activities in the least restrictive environment and enjoy personal development, health, and education.

"Ultimately, medically fragile persons will be able to lead improved lives and receive greater satisfaction in their daily activities," Andrew concluded.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that approximately one-half million children and youths with chronic health conditions are enrolled in its Medicaid programs at present. United Cerebral Palsy is also observing a rapid growth in the size of the population being served with serious and ongoing health conditions.

Gary M. Edwards, Ph.D., is executive director of the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham [Alabama], Inc., and was instrumental in the crafting the medically fragile population designation. Surveying the field, he said, "Childhood programs and daycare require a higher level of care, including nurses and doctors, to care for medically fragile children. Most daycare centers are not staffed for this higher level. In addition, strains are placed on families and funding to care for medically fragile children, some of whom are on ventilators. And, as they age, they require care for their disabilities plus the issues associated with aging."

The medically fragile specific population designation joins designations for older adults and for children and adolescents in the 2010 Employment and Community Services Standards Manual, which may be purchased at bookstore.carf.org. Service providers must apply standards for a minimum of six months before a CARF survey may lead to accreditation.

For more information about the medically fragile specific population designation, contact CARF's Employment and Community Services customer service unit toll free at (888) 281-6531 (voice/TTY) or ecs@carf.org.

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3/5/2010 12:05:00 AM

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