My job

60 seconds with nurse consultant for dementia and older people Chris O’Connor

Draw on every experience and never be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, says nurse consultant Chris O’Connor. 
Chris O'Connor.jpg

Draw on every experience and never be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, says nurse consultant Chris OConnor

Chris OConnor trained at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas Hospital in London, qualifying as a mental health nurse in 1993. In a career spanning almost 25 years, he has worked in acute psychiatry, learning disabilities and older people's services, before becoming head of nursing practice for a London mental health trust. Married with two children, his current role is nurse consultant for dementia and older people at East Surrey Hospital.

What are your main work responsibilities? Developing the trusts dementia strategy and ensuring the organisation is dementia-friendly, including providing staff training and service development and supporting patients with dementia and their families and carers.

How did you get

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Draw on every experience and never be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone, says nurse consultant Chris O’Connor


Chris O’Connor works to develop a quality, dementia-friendly hospital service.

Chris O’Connor trained at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, qualifying as a mental health nurse in 1993. In a career spanning almost 25 years, he has worked in acute psychiatry, learning disabilities and older people's services, before becoming head of nursing practice for a London mental health trust. Married with two children, his current role is nurse consultant for dementia and older people at East Surrey Hospital. 

What are your main work responsibilities?  
Developing the trust’s dementia strategy and ensuring the organisation is dementia-friendly, including providing staff training and service development and supporting patients with dementia and their families and carers. 

How did you get your job?  
I demonstrated my commitment to getting nursing care right for older people and those living with dementia.  

Who are your clients/patients?
Patients with dementia in hospital and their families and carers. 

What do you love about your job? 
The variety. No two days are ever the same. In one day I could be teaching staff, seeing a patient and their family or discussing ward designs with the estates department.

What do you find most difficult? 
Not being able to get to all the clinical areas as there are never enough hours in the day. 

What is your top priority at work?
Ensuring we deliver on the trust’s dementia strategy and create an excellent, dementia-friendly service across the whole hospital.

How have you developed your skills in this role? 
Networking and sharing learning are key skills in this role. I am a fellow on The Creating Better Dementia Care programme at Brighton and Sussex medical school, and an associate consultant with Stirling University Dementia Services Development Centre.

If you hadn’t become a nurse, what would you have done instead? 
I considered teaching, so I have fulfilled this desire to a certain extent, as so much of my work involves teaching.

What is the best lesson nursing has taught you? 
The simplest things can have a lasting impact, including just being there and listening.

What career advice would you give your younger self? 
I have always believed that you get out what you put in. Draw on every experience and never be afraid of moving outside of your comfort zone.

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