Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Compass Initiative


Compass is an OPWDD initiative that recognizes and promotes provider agencies that have progressed beyond minimal regulatory compliance and have achieved excellence in service delivery. Compass agencies engage their entire organization by encouraging service recipients, board members, management, and staff to work together in a person-centered environment with the goal of promoting and achieving valued outcomes for the people served.

The person receiving supports and services is the central figure in Compass. Empowerment of the individual, supporting their choices and preferences, and ensuring their overall satisfaction are the agency’s primary objectives. The person’s involvement in all aspects of the agency assists the agency in achieving the goals contained in its management and strategic plans. Compass also is increasingly focusing on developing methods to measure achievement of valued outcomes/person-centered outcomes in people’s lives.

Compass focuses an agency’s efforts on quality through ongoing internal assessment rather than external review. Instead of agencies concentrating their efforts on “passing” a periodic recertification inspection, continual review activities are conducted with the goal of identifying and correcting problems as part of an agency’s internal quality management process.

Participation in the Compass initiative involves a three-tiered admission process. As an agency demonstrates its ability to provide, monitor, and improve the manner in which it supports individuals in having their needs met at one tier, it works toward addressing the needs in the next tier. The agency, together with service recipients and families, works to become an agency with effective processes for ensuring that the people receiving its services have their physiological, safety, and security needs met, and are supported in developing meaningful relationships and valued roles. In addition, a participant in the Compass initiative is expected to strive for an agency culture that fosters innovation in the provision of supports and services that make the most of the capabilities and interests of the people served, and works to bring improvement to field of development disabilities.

Emerging Agencies

Before an agency receives the designation of a full Compass agency, it has expended substantial effort to demonstrate that it has established the foundation to meet the five quality criteria of Compass.

An agency interested in pursuing the Compass designation enters into activities to demonstrate that they have met these criteria in an incremental process overseen by DQI of OPWDD.  The first two criteria that need to be met are those of obtaining Board and Management Commitment and the creation of a Management Plan.  When agencies are working on these criteria, they are considered to be at the level of a Candidate agency on the continuum toward Compass designation. 

Once DQI has validated that these first two criteria are met, the agency is designated as an Emerging Agency.  An Emerging Agency is one which is actively developing a Self-Survey process to assure that state and federal regulatory requirements are met as well as quality expectations.  They are putting into place the mechanisms that will support Individuals to achieve their Valued Outcomes.  An Emerging agency is also creating and utilizing a continuous quality improvement process which identifies and assesses which key indicators of agency competence and quality, and maximizes the quality of life satisfaction of persons they support.

Currently, the following agencies have attained the level of an Emerging Agency on the Compass continuum:

  • ACLD, Inc
  • HASC Center, Inc
  • Herkimer Co NYSARC, Inc
  • Innovative Resources for Independence
  • Mercy Home for Children
  • Opengate, Inc
  • Suburban Adult Services, Inc

After an Emerging Agency has successfully demonstrated to OPWDD that they substantially meet the five Compass criteria, they will are designated a ‘Compass’ Agency. 

COMPASS Development Changes - 4/25/14