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CARF's new accreditation standards for cancer rehabilitation specialty programs answer need for coordinated cancer care

International cancer experts confirm the value of seamless transitions in post-acute care 

January 30, 2014, Tucson, Arizona -- Responding to the needs of healthcare service providers and persons receiving services, CARF International introduced accreditation standards for cancer rehabilitation specialty programs. The standards are in the newly published 2014 Medical Rehabilitation Standards Manual, available in electronic and print formats at New window icon (in Canada, New window icon 

A person-centered cancer rehabilitation specialty program uses a holistic, interdisciplinary team approach to meet the unique rehabilitation needs of persons who have been diagnosed with cancer. Programs may be provided in a variety of settings, including hospitals, healthcare systems, outpatient clinics, and community-based programs.

The new standards for cancer rehabilitation specialty programs can be applied on CARF surveys conducted after June 30 of this year using the 2014 standards manual.

The standards emphasize communication and collaboration among healthcare providers to deliver coordinated care and promote seamless transitions in care. Evidence-based practices address the preventive, restorative, supportive, and palliative rehabilitation needs of the persons served. This approach to rehabilitation care has the capability to manage the chronic conditions of persons served who often need services and support beyond their acute course of cancer care.

Providing an international perspective on the value of the new standards, Christina May Moran de Brito, M.D., Ph.D., physiatrist and medical coordinator of the rehabilitation service at Cancer Institute of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, said, "Cancer rehabilitation has gained progressive relevance as cancer treatment has provided greater survival rates. The focus of not only 'living longer,' but also 'living better,' has grown. As the world population ages, the incidence of cancer and of rehabilitation needs has increased substantially. As such, setting global standards will benefit not only a great number of patients, but also will help the providers toward quality care improvement and collaboration."

Julie K. Silver, M.D., associate professor at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, underscored a widespread need for cancer rehabilitation specialty programs. "Rehabilitation should be well integrated into the oncology care continuum and offered to all survivors who may benefit from this care rather than to a select few," she said.

CARF's leadership in framing standards is backed by its 48-year history of accrediting health and human services.

CARF's standards-development process is inclusive. The cancer rehabilitation specialty standards were drafted by an International Standards Advisory Committee (ISAC) and then submitted to CARF's International Advisory Council for review. CARF also invited comment from healthcare professionals and the public prior to the standards' adoption. Close to 200 interested persons participated in these review phases.

ISAC participant and CARF surveyor Pam Roberts, Ph.D., OTR/L, commented on the value of rehabilitation in cancer care. "It is important to identify and address problems in order to optimize participation and improve the quality of life for the persons served and their families," she said. "Rehabilitation across the continuum can be highly effective in increasing functional independence."

Vish Raj, M.D., vice chair of clinical operations and director of oncology rehabilitation of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Carolinas Rehabilitation, also participated in the ISAC. "With the newly established CARF standards, departments and institutions will, for the first time, have the opportunity to use accreditation standards and guidelines to help develop comprehensive programs for the rehabilitation of individuals with cancer," he said. "Rehabilitation is imperative as it can help to improve both psychological and physical status, which, in turn, can promote wellness and advanced treatment for cancer diagnoses."

He continued, "Rehabilitation provides the opportunity for cancer survivors to integrate psychological and physical well-being with the acute oncological plan of care in hopes that patients will receive the maximum benefit from all interventions."

1/24/2014 12:05:00 AM

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