I have over 30 years of direct professional Social Work practice working in the field of aging and health care. This included maintaining a small, ongoing practice providing consultation on complex cases, especially when there are issues related to decision-making capacity and/or abuse, neglect or self-neglect.

I am the founding director, and current co-director of the Centre for Research on Personhood and Dementia (CRPD) — an interdisciplinary research centre focused on understanding and supporting people with dementia and their family care partners using a lens that recognizes that the dementia experience is both a biomedical AND a social condition.

I am a founding member of the Citizenship and Dementia: International Research Network.

I have been a social worker for over 35 years. My professional and research practice has predominantly focused on issues related to social work practice in the field of aging and I am particularly well-recognized for my work related to dementia, personhood and citizenship. I bring a lens to my work that strives to examine and make explicit the interface between the personal  experience and socio-political context. Within my teaching, I try to foster critical thinking and the articulation of the link between theory, practice and research.

Ongoing research studies include:

a) A mixed-methods study exploring the issues of boomer-aged adults;

b) A qualitative evaluation study aimed at understanding and responding to the needs of older adults experiencing abuse;

c) A participatory action research project focused on self-management and living well for people with dementia;

d) A critical ethnography examining the relationships between family and care staff in long-term care;

e) An ethnographic study examining how community day programs foster social citizenship and involvement in people with dementia

Refereed Publications

Chan, SM. & O’Connor, D. (2014) Personhood: Including the Chinese Person with Dementia in Research, Policy and Practice. Journal of Ethnic And Cultural Diversity in Social Work (1531-3204)

Brondani MA, MacEntee M, O’Connor, D. (2011). Email as a data collection tool when interviewing  older adults.   International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 10(3): 221

Bartlett, R. and O’Connor, D. (2010). Broadening the Dementia Debate: Toward Social Citizenship, Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.

O’Connor, D. (2010) Personhood and Dementia: Toward a Relational Framework for Assessing Decisional  Capacity. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 5(3), 22-30.

O’Connor, D.  (2010)  Incapability Assessments:  A review of Assessment and Screening Tools.    Report commissioned by the Public Guardian and Trustee’s Office:  <http://www.trustee.bc.ca/documents/STA/Incapability_Assessments_Review_Assessment_Screening_Tools.pdf>

O’Connor, D. and Purves, B. (eds) (2009). Decision-making, Personhood and Dementia: Exploring the Interface. London: Jessica Kingsley Press.O’Connor, D. (2010) Understanding and Assessing (In) Capacity: Promoting Social Work Competence. Perspectives, 32(3).

O’Connor, D.,  Phinney, A. & Hulko, W.  (2010)  Dementia at the Intersections:  Exploring social location in the dementia experience. Journal of Aging Studies   24(4)

O’Connor, D.,  Hall, M. & Donnelly, M.  (2009)   Assessing capacity in a context of abuse.  Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect.

Phinney, A., Chaudhury, H., O’Connor, D.  (2007)  Doing as much as I  can:  Exploring meaningful activity in dementia.  Aging and Mental Health.  11(4), 384 – 393.

O’Connor, D.  (2007)  Developing a caregiver identity:  the positioning process.  Journal of Aging Studies. 21 , 165-174

O’Connor, D., Phinney, A., Smith, A., Small, J., Purves, B., Perry, J., Donnelly, M., Drance, E., Chaudhury, H., Beattie, L.  (2007)  Dementia Care:  Developing a research agenda  for broadening the vision.  Dementia:  International Journal of social research and practice  6(1), 121 – 143.

Bartlett, R. L. & O’Connor, D.  (2007)  From Personhood to Citizenship:  broadening the lens for dementia practice and research.   Journal of Aging Studies  21, 107 – 118.