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A Great Partnership In Accreditation

By Susan Arwood, Executive Director, Core Services of Northeast Tennessee

Core Services of Northeast Tennessee is a provider agency for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (TN DIDD). Core Services is a small agency, currently supporting 38 adults who share living expenses with 1-2 other people in homes throughout the community. Our agency went through Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation, by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership, during the week of July 11th with remarkable success.

Core Services has been on a journey in recent years. A long-term executive director retired 4 years ago and there was a succession of short-term directors until 2014. An energetic and experienced management team is currently in place and highly invested in practicing and living the ideals of the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) settings rules by embracing the principles of the CQL Basic Assurances® and Personal Outcome Measures® (POM).

As a provider with the Tennessee Department of Developmental Disabilities (TN DIDD), Core Services was selected as a field-test site in November 2015 as part of the state-wide CQL Network Accreditation of TN DIDD. This was an eye-opening, learning experience for Core Services. Motivated by what was learned during a “mock” Basic Assurances® review, the agency got to work.

Core Services decided to try for full CQL Accreditation. Because of the partnership with TN DIDD, members of the Accreditation Team including Sandy Huneycutt, Amber Perry and Kelly Bradley-Owens, provided multiple hours of training and mentoring plus conducted Personal Outcome Measures® interviews with people supported. All leadership team members received full 4-day training through the Personal Outcome Measures® Workshop. More than 60 others have also received the 2-day POM training with plans to train all employees. Core Services also began the process of self-assessment of the Basic Assurances®, and developed action plans to address those areas where systems and practices were not in place.

In June 2016, in accordance with the partnership agreement between CQL and TN DIDD, the Tennessee Accreditation Team began the validation of the Basic Assurances® and gathering information from additional Personal Outcome Measures® interviews. This information was made available to both the organization and CQL as it was completed.

On July 13th 2016, CQL began its part of the Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation by convening a stakeholder group of 40 people, representing leadership, direct support, family, people supported, community members and state TN DIDD employees. Two members of the Tennessee Accreditation Team, Sandy Huneycutt and Kelly Bradley-Owens, assisted Vickie Overpeck in leading the stakeholders over the next day and a half towards the development of a short-term Person-Centered Excellence Plan.

The Difference Of CQL Accreditation

Because of the unique (and one of a kind) partnership with the State of Tennessee DIDD, our agency was fully prepared for the review. The Tennessee Accreditation Team members worked with us to build a strong foundation months before the review. The leadership knew the “language” and values of CQL. The stakeholders benefited from the detailed information from the comprehensive validation of the Basic Assurances® and what was learned from the POM interviews. As such, we were better prepared to develop person-centered short-term goals that made sense.

Many organizations do a good job in preparing for their first accreditation with CQL, but the important foundation pieces, like Basic Assurances® and Personal Outcome Measures®, have to be given the attention needed for the best successful outcome. Core Services of Northeast Tennessee did it “The Right Way” and it shows!