A few highlights come to mind for Britney Didier-Shaw when she reflects on her 20-year anniversary with Classic LifeCare:
- Slow dancing with a client at her wedding
- Music therapy moments
- All the kilometers walked for the cause
- Pet therapy in hospice
- Making soup for the homeless
- Long-term, memorable clients, successful stories
- Being trapped in a care center in Edmonton with tornado warnings, wheeling patients to the hallways
- Sending a client/caregiver duo to Africa
- September 11, watching from the Vancouver office as unfamiliar planes landed at the airport
- Earthquake shake while at work
- My kids singing carols in long-term care
- Funerals of loved clients
- Office renovations
- Being awarded the Alberta Health Services pediatric contract
- 2013 Calgary flood
- Inheriting clothing from a passed client
- Acts of service opportunities
- Merging businesses, partnerships
- Rebranding the business
- Countless assessments with admirable families – one assessment involved being under old wool blankets outside on a porch
- Lifetime BFFs
- Self-improvement as a mother, partner, friend
- Quirky moments
Britney, Classic LifeCare’s Alberta Leader, laughs, “I’m used to the idea of my 20-year anniversary by now because I’ve kind of been rounding up for a few years. I must like the response I get from people.”
Britney started with Classic LifeCare as a scheduler (Client Care Coordinator) in Vancouver in 1999. She initially responded to the job posting because it included the line, “If you love seniors…”.
“I have a love for seniors that stems from wonderful relationships with my grandma and grandpa and Nan and Pop. I think seniors are these beautiful souls with baking skills and stories. They lived before you, they put in their time, they raised their families and worked. And, now they are at a time when a lot of that is behind them.”
After working with Classic for some time as a scheduler, Britney dabbled in payroll and had been taking lots of inquiries over the phone, when she was offered the opportunity to try marketing.
“I watched Susanne (Sherwood, Classic owner) coming and going and talking about her interactions in the community. We could really follow the business based on her activity. Susanne was a great mentor and I paid close attention to her, while developing my own style. I found I could be effective in promoting the business in the community that way.”
In 2002, Britney became pregnant and planned to return to the Vancouver office after her maternity leave. However, her daughter was born with PWS (Prader-Willi syndrome) and the family decided to relocate to Calgary, Alberta for proximity to family and early medical intervention.
“By then, John (Classic owner and CEO) and Susanne had become dear friends of mine. I had sort of joked about starting a Classic branch in Calgary over dinner once, but with me moving to Alberta, suddenly, that idea became very real.”
Britney humbly acknowledges her success in Alberta and expresses gratitude for “being handed an opportunity” when John and Susanne gave her the green light to open a Calgary branch.
She has grown Classic Alberta from two employees – herself and a nurse – to two branches in Calgary and Edmonton with 9 office employees, 70 LPNs and hundreds of Health Care Workers.
“I love that I have a say in Classic’s future, can weigh in on important decisions, that we can all put our personality in the company.”
She says she never gets bored at Classic and still enjoys visiting senior clients in their homes as a highlight of her job.
“I won’t ever let that go. I love doing home visits. I have learned over the years how to ask the right questions – because I didn’t always know how to ask the right questions – and to be curious and get to know our clients. There is something about going into their homes and engaging with someone from that generation. I love the smells of their homes. I feel nostalgic and happy in those spaces.”
As for the future, Britney is convinced Classic has not explored its potential as a company and she is excited to help it get there.
“While we grow and evolve, we still do the little things that made us Classic to begin with. I love that we are still warm, generous and polite. We are the little Classic that could and I am so happy to be here – 20 years later.”