My job

Maximising independence for people living with dementia

Belong villages chief operating officer Stacey McCann on supporting residents to live the life they want

Belong villages chief operating officer Stacey McCann on supporting residents to live the life they want


What is your job?

I am the chief operating officer at Belong villages, a not-for-profit organisation specialising in offering innovative settings and services to ensure a high quality of life for people living with dementia.

I am responsible for the running of Belong villages, ensuring they provide outstanding dementia and nursing care, as well as independent living apartments, all in a vibrant community village setting.

Our ethos is to provide the finest quality of life for older people and we offer a range of facilities, activities and events in this central hub.

Why did you become a nurse?

I am a practical, caring person, and I wanted to support people to live their lives in the best health possible, physically and mentally.

I have always held strong values centred on care, compassion and respect, and I believe we should all aim to deliver high-quality, holistic care to the people we support.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am proud to work with people in Belong who are caring and thoughtful, and who always go the extra mile to make sure that residents in our care villages feel supported to live the lives they choose.

It’s gratifying to visit the villages and see how the setting contributes to well-being, maximising independence for people with dementia, while at the same time providing a warm and encompassing home environment.

What is your greatest challenge?

As many other care providers find, staffing can be a challenge. At Belong, we want to encourage people with an interest in working in the care sector and who share our values and ethos to bring their experiences with them to enhance all aspects of care here.

What has given you most satisfaction?

My recent move from the NHS to Belong after working in the care sector for 36 years. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to use my skills, knowledge and competencies, and to learn and develop new skills.

I bring considerable experience as a senior nurse leader and I look forward to learning more in my new role while being able to bring a fresh pair of eyes to Belong.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I have a wonderful family who bring me great pleasure and pride. I live in the Yorkshire Dales, which is a beautiful part of the world. Walking is a big part of my life.

What or who inspires you, and why? 

My 89-year-old father. He was a sole carer for my mum as she deteriorated with arterial dementia and, after her death, he chose to live alongside us independently.

He still drives, he’s passionate about politics, he loves gardening and looking after wild birds. He believes in living as full and active a life as his body will let him. He challenges me every day about what I have done to improve health and care for the staff and individuals for whom I am responsible.

When working with patients with dementia what qualities do you think a nurse should possess?

Patience, understanding, a sense of humour, a ‘can do’ attitude and, most of all, the desire to support individuals to achieve their maximum potential to be physically and mentally active.

What advice would you give a newly-registered nurse? 

Consider a career working with older people. It is truly rewarding, and the scope of responsibility in the care sector is exciting, challenging and offers plenty of career development opportunities.

Come and visit us at Belong; we’ll show you around one of the villages and help you see the possibilities for yourself.

What is likely to affect nurses working in dementia care over the next 12 months? 

As life expectancy increases, more people will be diagnosed with dementia, so one of the challenges is to meet the needs of those people effectively and personally.

Nurses have a crucial role to play, but they may need to review the way they have traditionally worked, and learn to think in a more innovative or collaborative way to meet the demands of the care sector.

Find out more about Belong villages here

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