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
Special Edition Journal
O’Connor, D. & Nedlund, A-C (guest co-editors) (2016) Citizenship and Dementia Special Edition, Dementia: International J. of Social Research & Practice, 15(3)
O’Connor, D., Mann, J., & Wiersma, E. (2018) Stigma, Discrimination and Agency: Diagnostic disclosure as an everyday practice shaping social citizenship. Journal of Aging studies, 44, 45 – 51
O’Connor, D. & Kelson, E (2018) Boomer Matters: Exploring the needs and experiences of aging boomers using the emotional health program based in a senior’s community centre. J. of Gerontological Social Work, 61(1), 61-77.
Wiersma, E., O’Connor, D., Loiselle, L., Hickman, K. Heibein, B., Hounam, B. & Mann, J. (2016) Creating Space for Citizenship: The Impact of Group Structure on Validating the Voices of People with Dementia Dementia: International Journal of social research and practice 15(3).
Phinney, A., Kelson, E., Baumbusch, J., O’Connor, D., & Purves, B. (2016) Walking in the Neighbourhood: Performing Social Citizenship in Dementia. Dementia: International Journal of social research and practice 15(3)
O’Connor, D. & Nedlunds, A. C. (2016) Editorial to special edition on Citizenship and Dementia; Dementia: International J. of Social Research & Practice, 15(3)
Small, J. Hulko, W., O’Connor, D. & Drance, E. (2016) Verbal and nonverbal indicators of quality of communication between care staff and residents in ethnoculturally and linguistically diverse long-term care settings,” Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.
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).