Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Criteria and Best Practices


Over the past three decades, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has had a long history of high performing agencies in the Compass program.  The Compass designation is achieved by provider agencies which have demonstrated their ability to consistently provide quality supports and services that exceed minimal regulatory requirements.

Criteria and Best Practices: 

Currently, the five criteria for being designated as a Compass agency are described below with examples of best practices from current Compass agencies:

1.  The agency must demonstrate that there is a documented commitment from its Board of Directors and management to embrace the Compass designation objectives.

  • People receiving services are full voting members of the Board of Directors, serve on standing Board subcommittees, and have regular opportunities to communicate in person with board members in various settings.
  • Members of the Board of Directors serve on standing agency committees or work groups. 
  • Persons supported participate in agency processes such as self-survey, staff training and hiring and performance reviews.
  • Agency activities to support its continued compass designation are reported to Board of Directors and management regularly and annually.
  • Board of Directors and management team visit program sites to dialogue with persons supported in these settings.
  • The diversity, background, and skills of board members are robust to meet the agency’s mission.
  • The agency mission statement is posted prominently in program sites and is read at the outset of every Board of Directors meeting.
  • The agency mission statement is reviewed periodically by the Board of Directors and is revised with input of persons supported and other stakeholders.
  • The mission statement is incorporated in the person-centered plan and persons supported develop personal mission statements.

2.   There is a Management Plan which is an organizational strategic plan that emerges from the mission statement.

  • Persons supported, their advocates and other stakeholders have input into the Management Plan.
  • The Management Plan includes the agency mission.
  • The Management Plan contains agency wide goals which are supported by site-specific goals of programs.
  • There is formal and ongoing review of progress of Management Plan goals throughout the year.
  • The Management Plan describes agency progress toward its fulfillment of the five Compass criteria in an accessible format for all stakeholders.
  • The Board of Directors review and approve the Compass Management Plan annually.
  • The Management Plan includes plans to improve staff retention and performance.
  • Compass topics are standing items on all program and agency meetings. 

3.   There exists a regulatory self-survey process.

  • The Compass agency uses redesigned survey protocols consist with those used by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
  • Both program support staff and agency Quality Improvement staff have responsibilities to the self-survey process.
  • Agency self-survey includes a quality of life assessment and/or satisfaction assessment and a review of individuals’ progress with personal outcomes and supports.
  • Plans of correction are validated and verified through the self-survey process.
  • The results from self-surveys are analyzed and inform the agency Quality Improvement process.
  • Self-survey results are reported to the Board of Directors and management team at regular intervals throughout the survey year. 

4.  The Agency supports the achievement of Valued Outcomes of people supported.

  • Annual satisfaction surveys are completed by persons supported and by their families/advocates.   Respondents are contacted to address concerns.   Results are analyzed, communicated to stakeholders and used to inform agency goals and Quality Improvement plan. 
  • Agency has processes to identify, prioritize and measure the supports and outcomes desired by people and implements plans to achieve them.  The information from this process drives agency goals.
  • People supported receive regular training on their rights; including Home and Community-Based Services rights and making confidential complaints.
  • People are supported to grow their empowerment through system wide support of self-advocacy; running their own site-specific meetings; being supported to expand their decision-making abilities, and support to join outside advocacy groups.
  • Family, advocate and sibling support groups provide forums for training, communication and advocacy. 

  5.   There is an agency wide, documented Quality Improvement Plan.

  • Quality improvement goals are measurable, mission-focused and align with those of people supported.  Goal progress reviews are led, at regular intervals, by responsible goal ‘champions’ on the Quality Improvement committee.
  • The Quality Improvement process includes input from Self-Advocates; program meetings; self-survey; incident management; measures of persons’ desired outcomes and stakeholder satisfaction.
  • Agency Quality Improvement committee has broad representation (eg. persons supported, Board of Directors, support staff) and meets regularly to review and analyze input information.
  • Trends and findings identified by the Quality Improvement committee are brought to forums of people supported to help generate action plans.
  • The Quality Improvement Plan is reviewed at least annually by the Board of Directors for its input and approval. 
  • The Quality Improvement Plan supports the agency strategic planning process.
  • The Quality Improvement Plan evolves as measurable goals are achieved and new goals are generated.