Those of you in Licensing have heard me talk about the difference between compliance and enforcement more than once, but it’s been awhile since I’ve written about the subject.  Some people are confused about the distinction I always make between compliance and enforcement.  They are 2 very different things. Compliance (as it relates to our licensees) means that a facility or person in general accord with our requirements while enforcement is an action that we occasionally reluctantly take in order to get a facility into compliance.

In other words, our goal is always compliance, while we never have a goal of enforcement. The most cost effective way to achieve compliance is to provide clear and understandable customer assistance, provide general education during on-site surveys, set clear expectations of our licensees, and work effectively with our licensees and associations to find out what’s working and what’s not.  At the end of the line, when customer assistance, education and clarity aren’t enough to get compliance on important health and safety criteria, we sometimes need to resort to enforcement actions to move a licensee into compliance.  The bottom line is that it’s the least cost-effective tool in our toolbox.

Our licensees understand it too- check out the letter from one of our Behavioral Health Facilities:

“What I wanted to let you know was how much I appreciated the opportunity to have a sanction turn into a positive educational experience.  By allowing us to spend the funds on a training addressing the issues that resulted in a sanction our staff was able to receive a training (from an expert outside of our organization that spoke to their needs.  Using our contractor worked out so well for our line staff as well as our supervisory staff.  The morning addressed the actual OBHL violations – why it is so important to comply with regulations – the purpose – the possible outcomes – how they fit in the chain of responsibility – what can be done to create a more efficient environment.  The afternoon session was for the supervisors.  The trainer has years of experience in the field so she provided a round table discussion to identify areas of improvement and suggestions for implementation of new ideas.  The entire day was extremely well received by staff and supervisors.  Instead of “slapping hands” it turned out to be a day of learning and growth.”

That’s the team we all need to be on!