General Guidance Selecting A Provider Agency

One of the goals of the changes in the public mental health system is to increase the number of qualified provider agencies available for you to choose from. When selecting a provider agency, one of the things you should think about is the ethics of the agency. A provider’s ethics are often an indication of the quality of care they provide. Ethics is defined as “formal or professional rules of right and wrong” and a system of conduct or behavior”. Consumers and families will usually higher quality services from provider agencies that hold themselves to high professional standards and ethics.

Look for providers who are willing to spend time talking to you about what you can expect if you choose that agency. It is crucial that you are an informed consumer and base your decision on facts and on the history of the provider agency rather than on their promotional activities.

What to look for in a Provider Agency:

  • Listen for opportunities to be involved. Does the provider agency explain your role in the process and ensure that you will have input into all decisions? This is critical.
  • Do they offer you plenty of time and opportunity to ask questions and provide input?
  • Are they connected in the community and do they use a team approach to treatment?
  • Are they offering you free gifts of any kind? If so, this should be a red flag. Such activities are against Federal law and are an indication of unethical business practices.
  • It is never ok for a provider agency to try to “recruit” consumers who are already receiving services from another agency.
  • Trust your own judgment and if you have questions or concerns, contact the LME/MCO. When something about the provider agency doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Questions to ask when choosing a Provider Agency:

  1. What type of services do you provide?
  2. What is the philosophy of your agency in working with people who have mental health or developmental disabilities?
  3. Where are you located?
  4. How successful are you at helping people achieve their goals and improve their lives?
  5. How long have you been in business?
  6. Are you nationally accredited or working toward national accreditation?
  7. Do you belong to a provider association that requires you to adhere to a professional code of ethics?
  8. What training requirements do you have for your staff?
  9. What would current and past individuals served or their family members say about your agency (including praises or concerns)?
  10. How do you address situations when individuals served are not satisfied with your services?

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