It has been estimated that 44 million Americans currently provide some type of unpaid care to disabled adults in their own homes. The new Lifespan Respite Care Act will provide some modest relief to these families, but not nearly enough. It is important for all citizens interested in this issue to speak to their local politicians to push for a much more aggressive program. As most healthcare practitioners know, but few consumers do, The Joint Commission (JCAHO) conducts surveys of nearly all hospitals and many long-term care facilities throughout this country. While it has been criticized by many as essentially constituting the fox minding the hen house, much good has been accomplished by The Joint Commission’s work over recent years. Most acute care facilities and a handful of long-term care facilities simply cannot get certain types of either private or public funding without accreditation from The Joint Commission in their survey process. In January of 2006, The Joint Commission changed a significant aspect of its survey process by including unannounced inspections. This is a welcome change and most likely will lead to greater credibility and more accountability from the surveys. In the end, the quality of healthcare will most likely benefit from this significant change. For more information about The Joint Commission and its efforts, you can visit their website here.