Palliative care program certification recognizes those programs that meet national quality standards for service provision, staff composition and staff training, program operations and accessibility, and performance improvement over time.

Why pursue program certification? Certification is an indicator of excellence to patients and families, referrers, and financial partners. Certification elevates the standing of the palliative care program in your home organization and is a justification for future support.

Use this toolkit to learn why and how to certify your program.

What’s in the Toolkit

All palliative care program certifications are based on the National Consensus Project Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care—the gold standard for quality palliative care services.

National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition

The National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines are the national standard for high quality palliative care. National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care, 2018.

Specialty Palliative Care Certification

Information for clinicians of all disciplines on the process of becoming certified palliative care specialists.

Circle of Life Awards

Administered by the Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association (AHA), the Circle of Life Awards honor innovative palliative and end-of-life care in hospices, hospitals, health care systems, long-term care facilities, and other direct care providers. The awards seek to shine a light on programs and organizations that can serve as models or inspiration for other providers.

Certification options exist for palliative care services delivered by hospitals, hospice agencies, and home health agencies.

The Joint Commission (TJC) Advanced Certification for Palliative Care

Recognizes palliative care programs in TJC-accredited hospitals that demonstrate exceptional quality.

The Joint Commission Advanced Certification for Hospital Palliative Care: Program Needs Assessment
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Guidance on meeting Advanced Certification requirements and synthesizing application components.

DNV GL Palliative Care Program Certification

Recognizes hospital palliative care programs in that demonstrate exceptional quality. DNV GL base accreditation is not required.

Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) Palliative Care Certification

Recognizes community palliative care programs delivered by independent providers of palliative care, palliative care programs that are a service of a clinic, physician group, skilled nursing facility (SNF), or of a CHAP-accredited home health agency or hospice. Certification award is for three (3) years.

The Joint Commission Community-Based Palliative Care Certification

Recognizes palliative care programs delivered by hospice or home health agencies that demonstrate exceptional quality.

Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) Distinction in Palliative Care

Recognizes palliative care programs delivered by hospice, home health, or private duty nursing agencies that demonstrate exceptional quality.

A number of specialties outside of palliative care—notably oncology—have included access to palliative care among their standards for quality care delivery.

American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) Cancer Program Standards: Ensuring Patient-Centered Care (2016 Edition)

CoC accreditation requirement for pediatric cancer programs to provide palliative care services either onsite or by referral.

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)

Clinical practice guidelines for integrating palliative care into oncology care.