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
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.