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Comfort Matters is a dementia care education and research program dedicated to improving the quality of care and life for people with dementia.

Accreditation of Health Care Organizations

By Comfort Matters Dementia Care Education

Health care organizations that commit to educating their staff using Comfort Matters Dementia Care Education may seek accreditation by CMDCE.1 In brief, this accreditation requires that organizations make adaptations in their systems so these focus on comfort and that staff and medical care providers not only complete coursework but also embed their learning into practice with persons who have dementia. To date all CM organizations have chosen this route.

What is meant by accreditation?

Accreditation is a process of review that healthcare organizations participate in to demonstrate the ability to meet predetermined criteria and standards of accreditation established by a professional accrediting association. Based on best practices in dementia care literature, Comfort Matters personnel prepared standards of accreditation for organization staff-medical care providers, their care practices, and the milieu or environment in which they work and people with dementia live.

  • Standard 1 organizational staff-medical care providers specifies that these professionals attain and put into practice knowledge, skills and abilities suited to the care of persons with dementia and their families. In addition, the organization uses consistent assignment staffing to encourage bonding among caregivers with those they serve.
  • Standard 2 care practices specifies that all staff-medical care provider actions or activities have the comfort of persons with dementia as their goal.
  • Standard 3 the milieu focuses on making physical, social, emotional, and spiritual environments comfortable for persons with dementia.

Of course, standards include several subsections that describe what staff-medical care providers know and how they work. See details in Standards for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations by Comfort Matters Dementia Care Education.

Why is accreditation important?

Accreditation by Comfort Matters Dementia Care Education is important because having it says that the organization has taken extra steps to prepare for the care of persons with dementia. This “extra” may provide reasons why some families choose to place their relative who has dementia at a particular organization. On this website is a list of Comfort Matters Health Care Organizations, some of which have attained accreditation. The remaining organizations are working toward it.

How do accreditation processes work?

When organizations commit to collaborate with Comfort Matters, they can be sure that CM personnel will work with staff and medical care providers through the accreditation processes. Comfort Matters personnel strive for transparency in all processes so the information described here is detailed in writing for organizations that work with CM.

Organizations that sign on with CM typically find that changes in organization systems and care practices are needed to make comfort care a reality. The needs for changes show up in the pre-assessment that CM consultants do on their initial visit to the organization. The pre-assessment evaluates care practices, the milieu, use of consistent assignment staffing, and administrative support through consultant observations, interviews with staff, and reviews of organization policies and procedures. Pre-assessment results are shared with organization staff so they can identify the changes needed and decide a sequence in which to make them.

CM consultants collaborate with the organization staff to bring about those changes through continued communications after staff complete study of the CM coursework. As an ongoing process, CM consultants answer questions and offer encouragement to those making necessary changes at organizations. Organizations may signal their intent to obtain accreditation at any time. However, most wait at least 12 months, but some decide they need additional time before initiating accreditation.

When the organization is ready for accreditation, CM sends two consultants to the organization. There the consultants do a post-assessment that mirrors the pre-assessment. However, the post-assessment also includes competencies verification for staff-medical care providers and an interview with family members of a person who lives at the organization.

The consultants examine the post-assessment results carefully and weigh them against the standards. The organization is accredited when the standards are met.


1 Accreditation is a process in which an organization voluntarily participates and is completely separate from any regulatory review or process.