The two women responsible for opening Classic LifeCare’s Calgary branch in 2004 reconnected for lunch and laughs on Friday.
Classic’s Regional Leader Britney Didier-Shaw and RN Jan Shannon have run into each other briefly over the years, but took the time to properly reconnect and reminisce.
“I have often thought of Classic over the years,” smiles Jan. “We had some wonderful times and adventures together starting the Calgary branch.”
Britney started working for Classic LifeCare in Vancouver as a scheduler in an admin and HR position in 1999, while Jan started at that office in 2000 as a home care nurse.
“I had been living in the UK and moved back to Canada in 1998,” says Jan. “I found it challenging to work in the Canadian health care system back then so I moved into home care and worked for a private surgical centre. I saw an ad for a home support nurse for Classic LifeCare and applied for the job.”
Classic LifeCare is a home care agency with more than 40 years of experience. Started in Vancouver, BC, Classic now has offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Comox and Victoria. In 2014, Classic LifeCare became accredited by Accreditation Canada under the community home support standards.
Back when Vancouver was the only office, both Britney and Jan worked for Classic LifeCare for a few years before independently working their way to Calgary.
Britney had planted the seed of starting an Alberta branch for Classic with owners John and Susanne Sherwood before she left Vancouver. When Jan also moved to Calgary in 2004, she fulfilled the nursing piece to make a Calgary operation possible.
Britney oversaw the operations, hiring, marketing and scheduling, while Jan took on the nursing, assessment of clients, some networking in the community and training of the Health Care Workers.
“I was so jazzed about starting Calgary,” says Britney. “I had done lots of research leading up to the launch, so I knew there was a need and I knew how to go about it, but Jan was that key nursing piece. She moved to Calgary bought a big truck and we just launched into it.”
Classic LifeCare was run out of Jan’s townhouse in Garrison Woods initially. Britney used a small part of the kitchen as her office, they had a phone and a fax machine, kept Classic SWAG upstairs and held their daily briefing sessions in the kitchen.
“There was amazing cheering going on every time the phone rang,” laughs Britney. “It was simple back then. It seems old fashioned now to think of managing everything on paper and with our flip phones, but it was simple. We knew the job that had to be done and how to do it because of our experience in Vancouver. We were excited to be creating something in Alberta.”
The two laugh while reminiscing about snow storms where they drove across the city to take Health Care Workers to clients’ homes – doing whatever it took to ensure clients received their care.
They connected with the Vancouver office weekly to stay in touch and report activities, but head office was fairly hands off.
The Calgary office moved from Jan’s townhouse to a business centre as Classic took on more clients and employees. After almost a year in business, some invaluable experience and countless stories to tell, Jan left Classic and started to work for herself. Britney continued to grow the branch, expand to Edmonton and currently runs all of Alberta.
Jan worked for herself for seven years taking contracts with the Government of Alberta and the YWCA through the Victoria Order of Nurses. About five years ago, she started a job with Alberta Health Services in Medical Affairs.
“We oversee anything to do with physicians, and I deal with stuff going to litigation. So I do a lot of work with lawyers, develop training sessions for physicians with regards to the bylaws that govern them and the maintenance of those bylaws.”
Jan is also part of the AHS Investigation Coordination Team.
She says she loves the technical aspect of the job, policies and regulatory practice, which have a huge impact on patient care and, ultimately, influence the system. But she also just finds it morbidly interesting what people get up to.
“I never imagined back then that this is where I would be now, but I am happy and challenged and interested still,” says Jan. “I really enjoyed my time at Classic. I would list John Sherwood among the very best people I have ever worked for. He was very understanding and generous and open.”
Britney says some of the community relationships Jan built for Classic are still a source of client referrals today.
“I feel very grateful and honoured to have started Classic with Jan,” says Britney. “I am still so proud of us for going for it and creating a branch here that has benefitted so many clients and their families, has been an amazing place for me and many others to work, and continues to grow.”
Classic LifeCare Calgary is now located at #204 1608 17th Avenue SW. The company provides personal care, companionship, homemaking, complex care and pediatric home care.
For more information, call 403-242-2750 or visit www.classiclifecare.com.