Catholic Community Service earns accreditation, hospice award

Catholic Community Service (CCS) didn’t need to reapply for accreditation this year, but did it anyway.

It took months of effort, reviews and examinations, but CCS earned its reaccreditation from the Council of Accreditation this month, and Executive Director Erin Walker-Tolles said the work was worth it.

“We decided, even though we don’t need it, we really want to have it,” Walker-Tolles said. “We want to tell the public, the people we serve, ‘You can rely on us.’”

CCS, a nonprofit that focuses on family services, senior assistance and in-home health care, earned its accreditation in 2012, doing so in part to add a behavioral health program to its services, Walker-Tolles said. Now that it no longer offers behavioral health services, CCS didn’t need to earn its accreditation again this year. Still, the nonprofit wanted to reassert that it’s still on a good track.

For every month since earning the initial accreditation, CCS employees have examined their long-term goals and worked to figure out if they were still on track to accomplish them. In addition to this constant self-review, an employee from the Council of Accreditation came to Juneau earlier this year from Washington, D.C., to do a full examination.

The examination apparently went well, and Walker-Tolles was ecstatic as she spoke Tuesday.

“When you’re accredited,” Walker-Tolles explained, “that means that people can rely on the fact that you are a high-performing agency, that you are adhering to your own mission and your own values, and that the services that you offer are high-quality.”

Not only did it earn accreditation, but CCS garnered another honor as well. It runs Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, which earned a spot on the 2017 Hospice Honors list. This compilation of hospices honors the best operations in the country, judging them based on 24 quality indicator measures. This year, the list included more than 300 hospice operations, and Hospice and Home Care of Juneau is the only one in the state of Alaska to receive the honor.

The evaluation period ran from October 2015 to September 2016, interviewing patients and families about the quality of nursing, counseling, bereavement services and more. Walker-Tolles said the fact that this process — having an objective, outside body come and ask patients about their experiences — yielded high scores is very encouraging.

Positive news is a welcome change for CCS, which has dealt with dire budgetary issues in recent years. Walker-Tolles said the accreditation and hospice honor are indicators both of the quality of the organization’s services and CCS’s stability as an agency.

“We are not going to be closing down,” Walker-Tolles said. “We are on the upswing. We’re growing again. We’re not all the way there, but we’ve come a long way.”



• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at or 523-2271.



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