We are pleased to announce that CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission, has reaccredited Orion Associates, Meridian Services, and Zenith Services for another three years! This is the second reaccreditation awarded to our organization.

This outcome represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and shows an organization’s substantial conformance to the standards established by CARF. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation outcome has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable and accountable.

As noted in the CARF Survey Summary below, our organization was specifically recognized for its strength in eighteen areas and received rare “exemplary” recognition for its performance in three areas, including employee retention, service diversification and the assessment of potential health and safety risks to the individuals we serve.

We first pursued the goal of becoming a accredited by CARF accredited over eight years ago, as a part of our dedication to becoming an organization that provides the very best in services to our consumers, and achieved accreditation for the first time in 2003. As an organization, we intend continually to strive to insure that our consumers are able to live rich, productive, safe, and happy lives, that expectations of all whom we serve, including families, guardians, case managers, counties, and other businesses, and provides the best employment experience for every employee, striving to create an environment that is both personally and professionally satisfying for us all.

CARF is an international, independent, not-for-profit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1966, it is an organization of peers, who work together to set, promote, and maintain the very highest standards in care and support for those whom we serve. CARF establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. Additional information about CARF may be found at their web site at: http://www.carf.org/

CARF Survey Summary for Orion Associates, Meridian Services and Zenith Services

Survey conducted April 22, 23 and 24, 2009

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services has strengths in many areas.

The combined organizations offer a volunteerism program that encourages employees to volunteer with an outside organization while subsidizing this activity with up to sixteen hours of pay for hourly staff. Through a subsidiary organization, staff has provided disaster services to those in need in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after the massive flooding in that area; and in Fargo, North Dakota, just to name a few locations and endeavors. The travel expenses for these activities are covered by the organization. The organization has received a state and National Best Practices honor from the American Psychological Association for its volunteerism program and commitment to people and communities in need.

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services has done an exceptional job of market analysis and positioned the organization to be able to take advantage of opportunities to expand, even in this difficult economy. The organization has also shown great innovation in providing employment benefits that enhance job retention and employee satisfaction; i.e., a smoking cessation program, on-site day care for children of employees, tuition assistance for those wishing to enhance their postsecondary education, allowing pets at work, a volunteer activity salary stipend, and an on-site bathroom and shower for those who bicycle to work.

The organization is commended for the application (soon to be approved) with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as a designated organization adhering to principles promoting green elements of environmental design and building construction. An example of the organizations design efforts in this area is the provision of a shower and bathroom area designed for use by staff members who ride bicycles to work. In addition, receptacles for recycling of paper, metal, plastic, and other materials are located throughout the administrative offices for use by members of the staff and visitors.

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services has opened an on-site daycare center for the children of employees, allowing children to be cared for in the workplace. This is a tremendous employment benefit not often found in the human service sector due to the cost of operation, which often cannot be included in the cost of doing business. The organization operates this daycare at a financial loss, while recognizing the tremendous value of this service to employees.

The organization produces an extremely rare comprehensive written analysis of incidents that occur on an annual basis relative to safety issues. The written analysis examines incidents by program and type, workers’ compensation claims by program and by employee, and medication errors by program and employee. This analysis helps to identify trends that can be addresses to improve the overall health and safety of persons served and employees.

The organization sponsors a diversity day, which emphasizes the commitment of the organization to the promotion of diversity and diversity activities.

The organization has developed a thorough pandemic flu plan in case of an epidemic requiring specialized medical treatment and precautionary activities.

Staff members who work in the central administrative offices of the organization are allowed to bring their pets to work, making a friendly and relaxed environment.

The organization has an active safety committee that ensures that persons served live and work in environments that reflect best practices in protection of their health and well-being. The organization also compiles an extremely detained annual report on all incidents across the organization, allowing management the opportunity to identify any trends that may need to be addressed for improvement.

The organization has provided a well rounded training program for staff. In addition, the organization has developed specialized training provided by local experts in the field, not only for presentation to organization staff, but available for a fee to staff of other organizations and the general public. This is yet another example of management’s ingenious efforts to look for and develop niche markets, even during this time of economic down turn.

Persons living in the supported loving settings are very knowledgeable about what outcomes they are trying to achieve and what the staff is doing to help them be successful in gaining skills and independence.

The residential homes for persons served are well maintained, very attractive, have comfortable furnishings and are located in typical neighborhoods.

Persons served show pride in their homes and have their own personal space that respects privacy and is safe and secure. The organization provides a comfortable environment in which staff can deliver quality service. Staff members are very committed and respectful toward individuals served.

The supervised living services (SLS) have developed a self-advocacy group in which persons served are highly involved in bringing concerns/ suggestions to the staff on a monthly basis. This process promotes self-advocacy and raises their self-esteem.

Parents, persons served, and referral agencies reported a high satisfaction with the services provided. Persons served are treated professionally and with dignity and respect. This is demonstrated by the high degree of satisfaction and confidence they have in the quality of services provided.

The residential homes provide opportunities for community participation of persons served based on the identified needs and desires of the person served.

Behavior management policies and procedures are thorough and provide staff in the residential settings dealing with persons with multiple behaviors with excellent guidelines for specific programs for persons served. There is also low turnover of staff in these settings.

Staff of case management services has worked hard to establish a responsive, customer-focused service delivery system. The staff is co-trained in processing all waivers to allow for maximum flexibility and capacity. To ensure that no potential or perceived conflict of interest exists, individuals receiving case management services who are interested in receiving additional services from other departments in the organization must choose which service they wish to receive. In this manner, there is an assurance that no preference is given to the case management provider organization. As evidence of the overall quality of the service, consumers, family members, and funding sources express a high degree of satisfaction.

In the following areas Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services demonstrate exemplary conformance to the standards.

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services is commended for its many efforts to improve employee retention through a unique program of benefits that create a very desirable employment culture that permeates throughout the organization and fosters staff longevity.

Through astute market analysis and accurate evaluation of organizational capacity, the organization has been able to effectively diversify the market share of services and add new services to its continuum of care, allowing the organization to be “out front” in service provision and positioning it for continued success.

Although recognized as strength in the last survey, the assessment of potential health and safety risks to the individuals served in Day and Employment Service Centers now has attained a level of exemplary status. To ensure that staff is fully aware of each person’s individual risks; management has implemented ongoing staff training on this information. This not only reinforces the importance of this information, but also facilitates cross training of staff.

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services should seek improvement in these areas identified by the recommendations in this report. Consultation given does not indicate nonconformance to standards bit if offered as a suggestion for further quality improvement.

On balance, Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services provides high quality services and programs to persons served in the greater Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. Consumers, families, and funders of services express high satisfaction and confidence in the organization as a service provider. The organization has well qualified staff members who show obvious care and enthusiasm toward the people they serve. The organization is financially stable and exhibits best practices in business operations. The organizations management staff has been the recipient of several awards for program and operational excellence, including recognition for employee assistance with national disasters in New Orleans; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Fargo, North Dakota and effort to make its office environment adhere to green practices and principles. There are relatively few areas of non conformance to the standards and the organization is willing and able to make the changes necessary to rectify these areas.

Orion Associates; Meridian Services; Zenith Services has earned a Three-Year Accreditation. The organization is congratulated for this accomplishment and its continuing commitment to provide residential and vocational services to persons with challenging behaviors. The organization is urges to address the few areas of nonconformance identified in the report. It is encouraged to continue to utilize the CARF standards in the provision of services to persons with disabilities.

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