The people of Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, Inc. (AIHS) strive for nothing less than excellence. This goal is reflected in their push to achieve NCQA Accreditation of Case Management for Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS).
In 2015, AIHS, the Area Agency on Aging for Northeast Indiana, and was selected to participate in NCQA’s Learning Collaborative, and jumped at the chance to become an early adopter of LTSS accreditation. As AIHS President and CEO, Connie Benton Wolfe says, “We’ve been working in the integrated care space for about four-and-a-half years and as we look forward, we see the importance of having an accreditation that is recognized by the medical community.”
NCQA LTSS Accreditation proves to partners and payers that organizations have the processes and procedures necessary to coordinate efficient, effective, person-centered care that meets people’s needs and helps keep them in their preferred setting.
Locking Standards in Place, Strengthening AIHS
Benton Wolfe says AIHS was already moving in that direction, but credits LTSS accreditation with making more-rigorous standards part of the AIHS culture. “I think that can only strengthen us, because it means that as we’re going through the accreditation process, we’re engaging members at all levels of our staff,” says Benton Wolfe. “We’re familiarizing our staff with those attributes of person-centered care and the standardization that comes with it. It’s not taking us in a new direction, but it brings a new level of structure to our agency that will only make us stronger.”
AIHS adopted the accreditation process as a systemwide goal. Benton Wolfe says everyone is part of the process and there’s a lot of excitement and pride to being one of the country’s early adopters. She adds, “Our staff has been motivated by the accreditation process.”
No Pain, No Gain
NCQA LTSS Accreditation is not an easy path, Benton Wolfe admits, but it’s worth it. “If you’re the CEO, I think you must fully understand the importance of accreditation and believe it, because it does require an assessment of resources—human resources, other aspects within your organization. But if you are a believer, that [accreditation] is an essential component not only for your quality improvement, but to position your organization for new business lines, then it is an investment well worth making.”
Bringing Everyone Along and Moving Forward
Benton Wolfe is looking at LTSS Accreditation more broadly, beyond AIHS. Ideally, she would like to see accreditation implemented statewide. “I don’t think we should be satisfied just with our own organizations moving forward. I think we have some responsibility to help move this aging network into an accredited, high-quality, measurable-outcome kind of industry. I just think the work that [NCQA is] doing is so much a part of where we need to go as a network of providers.”
Cindy is a senior communications consultant. Her focus is building consumer awareness through media and public relations. A communications and public engagement strategist with a background steeped in TV news reporting, Cindy works on developing dynamic and engaging messaging through visual storytelling.