Britney Didier-Shaw found a home for her family and Classic LifeCare in Calgary, Alberta.
By Lissa Miles
“I have an abundance of passion for Classic,” says the Regional Leader – Alberta. “I live the company culture and believe in all the things it stands for.”
Britney started with Classic in Vancouver in April of 1999, where she became seasoned in administration, coordinating and marketing.
Britney ponders her journey back to Alberta (she grew up in Southern Alberta) surrounded by framed pictures of family and clients alike, sitting at her desk at Classic’s 4th Street Calgary office.
“I moved to Alberta in 2003, even though it was really hard to leave, because Alberta was the best place to be for my daughter, who has special needs.”
During her time in Vancouver, Britney and Susanne Sherwood, who owns Classic with her husband John, had casually talked about opening a branch in Alberta.
“Even though those conversations were loose, I secretly held on to the idea that this would happen.”
When one of Classic’s nurses from Vancouver, Jan, also moved to Calgary in 2004, Britney was convinced and started doing research.
Having been ‘raised’ by the Vancouver office, she knew what had to be done, how to spread the word and who she needed to connect with.
She marketed, staffed the cases and handled all HR and admin duties, while Jan managed assessments and nursing home visits.
“I felt the best kind of pressure and worked the hardest I’ve ever worked,” smiles Britney. “I understand that saying, ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person.’ I felt unstoppable.
“I was so passionate to fill the shifts we had landed, I would sometimes bundle up my kids in the dead of winter and drive a health care worker to someone’s home.”
Britney was on-call for several years and found her personal and work life sort of blended. If there was a seniors’ fair or a volunteer opportunity, her kids would attend with her. They would help hand out cookies during Stampede, Christmas presents in December, and often visited hospital wards together.
Conversations at home became educational with the girls asking about catheters and Alzheimer’s.
“Seeing it all through their little eyes was very moving and I’m happy they could play a role in some of the lives Classic has touched. Their own lives were certainly touched by some of our clients.”
Her eldest daughter, when wrapping her mind around the idea of palliative care, stated, “So, it’s like permanent marker, not washable marker.”
Over time, Britney made a name for Classic in the community.
“The best way to find our place in the community was to embrace the community. I was in the community as often as possible and started to build relationships, which is the essence of marketing.”
The biggest “pat on the back” came from a client with complex needs located just outside of the city.
The hospital he was discharged from said he needed to be in long-term care, however, his son was determined to keep his dad home. The son called around and no one would take on the case because of its challenging nature and the remoteness of the residence.
Classic has now provided full-time care and weekly nursing visits for the man for eight years. Both father and son have expressed gratitude for the years of service.
“Home care provides hope,” says Britney. “People get their confidence back when they’re in familiar surroundings with their familiar smells and in their own bed.”
Following the success in Calgary, Classic opened branches in Victoria in 2009 and Edmonton in 2010. Last year, Classic in Calgary took on a contract to provide home care for pediatric clients.
“Whether opening a new location or staffing difficult cases or facing the learning curve required for pediatric work, we tend to say, ‘Yes’ and then figure it out and put the work in to make it successful.”
Classic is Accredited with Accreditation Canada, having passed its final survey this month, and Britney says it has been a reaffirming process.
“We have been doing it right. We always thought we had service and safety at heart, and now we know we have. Plus, we really held onto our culture through this process and grew closer as a team.”
Britney, who originally intended to pursue a career in early childhood education, says she found her place in life when she responded to the job posting for Classic LifeCare. She loves telling people about the company and takes pride in the work Classic does for its clients.
“I want Classic LifeCare to be the first choice for families because we’ve earned it. I’ve marketed for so many years and I want to see that be effective amidst the competition out there. It’s something I am passionate about and I’ve seen the positive impact we have on the families we support.”
For more information about Classic LifeCare in Calgary, visit: https://clc.aemedia.ca/contact/home-care-services-calgary