Open conversation with Executive Director and founder of Venture Academy, Gordon Hay.

Now that Venture Academy has achieved accreditation, how do you and your staff feel about that?

It feels fantastic! Yes there was that whole sense of nervousness and apprehension. We knew the standards to be met were very high – we are dealing with a 24 hour care environment for children and teens who’ve been struggling emotionally and behaviorally. Will we pass the inspection? What if we fail or do poorly? It turned out we had nothing to worry about. The process of the accreditation survey itself and the incredible outcomes we achieved could not have been better.

What was the impetus that made your organization wish to go through such a challenging and comprehensive quality assurance process?

Our policies had always been formatted around accreditation standards. However the time came to verify and prove to the community that we are really doing what we say we are doing. That’s the benefit of objective and experienced third-party accreditation surveyors coming in to evaluate and inspect the organization from front to back. We no longer have to solely rely on the positive response from our clients and referral sources alone. Independent and experienced accreditation surveyors are the ones giving the frank and open feedback and verifying that we meet literally thousands of quality assurance standards.

What you consider to be the highlights of preparing for accreditation or the process itself?

Venture Academy works on a continual improvement model. Every day we are looking at how we can do things better – clinical approaches, treatment and care models, administrative efficiencies, – all in the name of helping our clients heal, reconcile, turn their behaviors around, and reconnect with family. The accreditation process itself gave us a specific focus as to what we could work on in terms of improvement and program development. Among the many highlights was connecting with the surveyors themselves. It didn’t take long to figure out that they really knew what to look for. The way they went about the actual survey felt more like a supportive counselling sessions that our own therapists on would implement as compared to some kind of punitive inspection. Without a doubt the main highlight was the in-person feedback from the surveyors as well as the subsequent report outlining our strengths. We knew we were doing a good job but to receive such accolades was so empowering and uplifting.

Now that you are accredited what can your new clients and referral and funding sources expect?

Nothing different really. he accreditation achievement process is not at an evaluation of what you’re going to do differently or promise to do in the future, it is verification that you are following highest-quality standards already in place in order to meet the needs of our clients in a safe and caring environment in order to help them turn their lives around.

CARF International accreditation demonstrates a program’s quality, transparency, and commitment to the satisfaction of the persons served. CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services.