Five Stars is no longer the bar



As the competition for funding, staff, and resources increases at a breakneck pace, providers are struggling to prioritize their efforts in ways that effectively impact their care and effectively use the minimal resources they have.

While accreditation may be the last thing vendors want to consider, it can be one of the most strategic and valuable efforts vendors can make to effectively improve their bottom line and improve their financial outlook.

The spotlight is bigger, the demand is bigger

Since the pandemic, aging care providers have seen a gradual shift in focus and demand for personalized care. Not only are people living longer, but these and other circumstances have presented new challenges, including:

  • ability to serve people with more acute needs,
  • variations in state regulations and supervision,
  • increased competition within the industry, and
  • further scrutiny by residents, caregivers, regulators, payers and healthcare partners.

Providers need guidance to meet today’s complex care needs

This change has highlighted the need to assess and standardize practices at all levels of care for patients and residents living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Joint Commission accreditation covers the functions and processes necessary to provide high-quality care, such as:

  • infection prevention,
  • rights of patients and residents,
  • medication errors,
  • transfer communications, and
  • health care acquired infections.

And unlike punitive CMS certification inspections, the Joint Commission provides guidance through collaboration, feedback, and coaching to drive continuous improvement over time and across all sites and services.

The difference of the joint commission

Among CMS-certified organizations, those that were also accredited by the Joint Commission excel. A JAMDA study1 found that Joint Commission-accredited organizations outperformed their unaccredited counterparts in all five short-stay metrics, key long-stay metrics, and four star rating-related areas: health inspections, quality metrics, staffing and RN staffing.

Beyond CMS certification, a 2021 study2 found, compared to organizations accredited by the Joint Commission, unlicensed nursing homes had significantly higher variability in COVID-19 case rates and a greater proportion of unlicensed nursing homes had COVID case rates -19 higher than expected.

It’s about your residents: give them what they want

When it comes to choosing a long-term care facility, accreditation can play an important role in the decision-making process. To research3 indicates that potential residents of assisted living communities and their caregivers are more likely to visit and visit a facility accredited by the Joint Commission.

Inspire your staff

Today’s employees are mission driven. While pay is important, quality residential care is a top priority and staff are dedicated to organizations that advance the care of their residents. Have the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval® demonstrates your commitment to providing optimal client care. Our program also gives you the framework to establish and verify staff qualifications, provide training and assess staff skills. Finally, job satisfaction is key to employee retention. The Joint Commission helps organizations develop strong business policies and processes to provide safe and collaborative care, whether across shifts, departments or settings.

Find new sources of income

Accreditation can facilitate partnerships with organizations that share your commitment to high quality through referrals, contractual relationships, etc. Additionally, new value-based incentive programs continue to emerge that reward quality efforts, including accreditation. Used as a quality indicator by states and third-party payers, Joint Commission accreditation can lead to greater reimbursement, ability to participate in networks, bonus points on value “scorecards” , etc.

“It has improved our preparedness for regulatory investigations. Compared to other inquiries, the Joint Commission is much more collaborative. You understand why you put processes in place rather than just adhering to a standard.
Lori Pearson
Vice President of Clinical Excellence
Consulate management company

Profitability in cost savings

The accreditation framework helps organizations overcome operational inefficiencies. Joint Commission accreditation can be used in place of state license investigations to reduce the burden of additional inspections. It can also prevent unintended harmful events before they become costly problems. Research1 has shown Joint Commission accredited nursing homes saved an average of $5,480 in CMS certification fines compared to their non-accredited counterparts.

Rise with Distinction in Quality

Accreditation can boost your credibility and set you apart from your competitors. To improve your marketing, the Joint Commission offers free publicity assistance, including suggestions for celebrating your accreditation, sample press releases, and the downloadable Seal of Approval.® artwork.

Introduce care specialties with post-acute care and memory care certifications

To help you promote unique programs that meet the distinct needs of your community, the Joint Commission offers post-acute care certification and memory care certification. To meet the growing need for dementia care, the Joint Commission is working with the Alzheimer’s Association to enhance its memory care certification requirements as well as provide future education programs and presentations. The initial relaunch of the program will take place in July 2022.

Accreditation on your terms

Joint Commission offers you flexibility and a process designed to meet your needs. Access to the app is available 24/7 with the ability to designate blackout dates. And the requirements, while comprehensive, are not prescriptive so you can meet the intent of the standard based on your goals, resources, and capabilities. The Joint Commission also offers custom survey options to streamline the application and survey process. Whether offering specialized services within your retirement home (memory care, post-acute care) or offering multiple disciplines across a larger network (assisted living, home care , behavioral care, etc.), we provide effective survey options that meet your unique needs and services.

You will have access to a range of professionals to help you with day-to-day accreditation activities, and we also offer a wide range of programs and resources vetted by industry experts to help you prepare and stay ready for accreditation.

To learn how Joint Commission accreditation and certification can improve your organization’s performance, please contact us at 630-792-5020 or email [email protected] You can also visit

Gina Zimmermann is the Executive Director of Business Development for the Joint Commission’s Assisted Living Nursing Center and Community Services. In this role, she oversees the strategic direction and performance of the Nursing Home Accreditation Program and the Assisted Living Community Accreditation Program.

1 “Comparison of Public Quality Ratings for Licensed and Unlicensed Nursing Homes”, JAMDA 18 (2017) 24e29 D
2 “A Multi-State Comparison Study of COVID-19 Cases Among Licensed and Unlicensed Nursing Homes”, Policy, Policy and Nursing Practice (2021) 1-6
3 Research commissioned by The Joint Commission and conducted by Directions Research, Inc., 2018


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