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COMPASS: COMmunity of Practice And Safety Support



The Oregon Healthy Workforce Center’s COMmunity of Practice And Safety Support (COMPASS) is an evidence-based Total Worker Health® toolkit designed for home care workers. Home care workers, who typically work in isolated settings, have elevated injuries and health problems. It is difficult to protect these caregivers from harm because they work alone, and many lack access to training, ergonomic tools, and social support.


The COMPASS toolkit utilizes a peer-led social support group format designed to improve social well-being, reduce the risk of injuries, and promote health among home care workers. Home care workers learn together, set-goals, and get support for making changes to advance safety, health and well-being. 

Download the COMPASS one pager to share with your organization.

Learn more on how your organization can participate in YourWorkpath Program​ to access the training program at no cost for your employees.

*Our toolkits are continually going through improvements and changes to provide your organization with updated and relevant content. Our toolkits were last reviewed and updated on January, 2020.

"I think anybody new coming into this field should have to take the COMPASS class. If you are brand new… you should have to take this class, because it will help exponentially"  

"I think I've made several changes [because of] the COMPASS program. Awareness was definitely one of those. I think of myself personally as a caregiver - I may focus on my consumer employer's needs more than my own needs, and so it really did bring an awareness that if my needs, you know my health…my mental health and everything, if I'm balanced, then I feel that I'm a better caregiver" 

COMPASS addresses the lack of occupational social support structures for home care workers. Home care workers learn together, set-goals, and get support for making changes to advance safety, health, and well-being


The COMPASS toolkit is a self-paced program that involves 3 to 4 months of time commitment depending on the pace. The cost of implementing COMPASS depends on the number participants in training groups. However, the only cost associated with implementing the toolkit is printing workbooks and purchasing ergonomic tools. This toolkit is free for your organizations with an exchange of research information.

COMPASS toolkit training components:

  • In-person, small group meetings

  • Lessons on safety and health topics relevant to home care

  • Team activities 

  • Group problem solving

  • Individual goal setting


Goals of the COMPASS toolkit:

  • Increase social support

  • Improve physical and psychological well-being

  • Reduce hazards in homes and improve safety and health 

Topics covered:

  • How COMPASS groups work

  • More Plants on the Plate

  • Healthy Postures

  • Functional Fitness

  • Take a Load Off With Tools

  • Communication for Hazard Correction

  • Mental Health

  • Additional resources


Contact us if your organization is interested in implementing COMPASS in your home care organization, and we would be happy to get you the toolkit materials to get you started. 


COMPASS home care worker toolkit workplace safety and health program.jpg

COMPASS group meeting 

Download the COMPASS Toolkit Sample?

Click the download button to register or sign in to download your COMPASS preview. We collect registrations for reporting purposes only. Your information will never be used for marketing or sold to a third-party.

Why Adopt COMPASS?

COMPASS has been found to improve home care workers' safety and health knowledge as well as their experienced community of practice (i.e., professional social network). The program also produces combined improvements in both safety and health behaviors, including the use of ergonomic tools.


Home care workers are a vulnerable population with a very limited support structure. COMPASS is a highly repeatable resource that provides them support and education resources that were previously unavailable to them. The long term desired impact is to improve health and reduce injuries in the US population.

COMPASS is unique in that it addresses the lack of occupational social support structures for home care workers while also simultaneously targeting illness and injury prevention behaviors. COMPASS integrates several evidence-based intervention tactics, including elements of effective social support group (1,2) scripted team-based health promotion programs (3,4,5,6), and goal setting with behavioral self-monitoring (7).

The COMPASS toolkit was developed by Dr. Ryan Olson, PhD. Learn more about Dr. Ryan Olson, and his research at OHSU.

The Science Behind COMPASS

In a randomized controlled trial, COMPASS intervention participants reported several statistically significant improvements:

  • 76% reported improved safety behaviors. 58% had more safety conversations with their consumer-employer(s)

    • 50% corrected more slip, trip, fall safety hazards in consumer-employer(s)' homes

  • 63% reported eating more fruits and vegetables

  • 62% reported having an enhanced professional social support community

  • Compared to the control group, COMPASS intervention participants had fewer lost work days due to injury.

Funding for COMPASS was provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH; grant: U19OH010154)

Copyright © 2022 Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). For inquiries regarding the use, distribution, and/or modification of COMPASS, please contact both and and put in the subject line, "Tools and Toolkit Distribution and Licensing."

Have questions? We're here to help.​

Contact us for more information and guidance on how we can help your organization be safe, healthy and well.


Why Adopt COMPASS References

  1. Toseland RW. Long-term effectiveness of peer-led and professionally led support groups for caregivers. Soc Serv Rev.1990;June:308-327.

  2. Delbecq J, DeSchryver Mueller C. The ignatian faculty forum: A transformative faculty formation program. Connections. 2012;12(7):5-9.

  3. Elliot DL, Goldberg L, Kuehl KS, Moe EL, Breger RKR, Pickering MA. The PHLAME (promoting healthy lifestyles: Alternative models' effects) firefighter study: Outcomes of two models of behavior change. J Occup Environ Med. 2007;49(2):204-213.

  4. Goldberg L, Elliot DL, Clarke GN, et al. The adolescents training and learning to avoid steroids (ATLAS) prevention program: Background and results of a model intervention. Arch Pediat Adol Med. 1996;150:713-721.

  5. Elliot DL, Goldberg L, Moe EL, DeFrancesco CL, Durham MB, Hix-Small H. Preventing substance use and disordered eating: Initial outcomes of the ATHENA (athletes targeting healthy exercise & nutrition alternatives) program. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:1043-1049.

  6. Kuehl KS, Elliot DL, Goldberg L, et al. The safety and health improvement: Enhancing law enforcement departments study: Feasibility and findings. Front Publ Health. 2014;2:38.

  7. Olson R, Winchester J. Behavioral self-monitoring of safety and productivity in the workplace: A methodological primer and quantitative literature review. J Organ Behav Manage. 2008;28:9-75.


The Science Behind COMPASS References

  1. Olson, R., Thompson, S., Elliot, D.L., Hess, J.A., Luther Rhoten, K., Parker, K.N., Wright, R.R., Wipfli, B., Bettencourt, K.M., Buckmaster, A., & Marino, M. (2016). Safety and health support for home care workers: The COMPASS randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public Health, 106 (10), 1823-1832.  

  2. Olson, R., Wright, R.R., Elliot, D., Hess, J., Thompson, S. Buckmaster, K, & Wipfli, B. (2015). The COMPASS pilot study: A Total Worker Health intervention for home care workers. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(4), 406-416.

  3. Olson, R., Elliot, D., Hess, J., Thompson, S., Luther, K., Wipfli, B., & Buckmaster, A.M. (2014). The COMmunity of Practice And Safety Support (COMPASS) Total Worker Health study among home care workers: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 15: 411, 1-13.

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