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Andrea’s 25-Year Journey with Classic LifeCare

By January 31, 2024Moments
Andrea Warren

After devoting more than 25 years of her life to Classic LifeCare, Andrea Warren plays an integral role in the company. She initially joined the Classic LifeCare Vancouver team in September 1994. Andrea was one of the few employees who worked closely with Jan Sherwood, Classic LifeCare’s founder. She recalls her interview with Jan and how they made an immediate connection. “In my interview, I spoke about my hometown, Kempsville, Ontario. Coincidently, Jan gave birth to her first son there. The man who delivered her son also delivered me and is my husband’s uncle – what a small world!”

Andrea trained as a nurse in Ontario before moving to British Columbia. Her first role at Classic LifeCare was providing rehabilitation support to a WorkSafe client living with a severe brain injury. There was once a time that Andrea contemplated leaving Classic for new career opportunities, however Susanne changed her mind by encouraging her to apply for the new office-based Nursing Supervisor position. Considering her youth and limited work experience, Andrea was convinced that Classic wouldn’t hire her for the role. She remembers persuading Jan and John Sherwood to take a chance on her. “I remember telling them, ‘I can do it, I know seniors well, give me the chance,’ and thankfully, they did. That role kickstarted my career.”

The role of Clinical Nursing Supervisor offered Andrea the best of both worlds. It allowed her to continue her client interactions through home visits while learning new leadership skills.


New Challenges and Learning Opportunities

Beyond her role at Classic LifeCare, Andrea lent her nursing skills to assist Classic’s sister company, CONNECT Communities. When both companies expanded, John appointed Andrea as the Executive Leader of Classic LifeCare in 2011. This new challenge required Andrea to further enhance her leadership skills as she was now responsible for the company’s operations. “Becoming the Executive Leader was a learning curve. I had to develop new skills to steer Classic LifeCare’s growth and progress. I was grateful for the opportunity and took online courses and attended conferences to aid my development.”

In 2021, Andrea went on medical leave, paving the way for Yvette to step into the role of Executive Leader. “When I was leaving the company, I knew it was in excellent hands under the leadership of Yvette. I always felt like we were a team. I could not have accomplished what I did without Yvette and my other coworkers by my side.”

Leaving Classic was a challenging transition, highlighting the profound importance the company holds in Andrea’s life. “Classic is a part of my heart, and it will always be a part of me. It played a big role in my life for 25 years, I grew up there. When I had to leave to look after my own health, I lost my identity and I had to redefine myself. It was very hard because I felt like I had lost half of myself and I didn’t know life without Classic.”


Classic Was Andrea’s BC Family

When asked what appealed to her about working at Classic, Andrea replies; “We were all young leaders, John, Susanne, Yvette, Britney, and Susan. Classic grew from a small family to something much larger. We became accredited, we took on contracts, and we acquired other businesses. We took this small, family business and turned it into a sophisticated business – it was fun and exciting.”

Describing Classic as “Family, Compassionate, and Loyal,” Andrea emphasizes the familial treatment she received from John and Susanne. Their care extended beyond professional relationships, offering personal support “I didn’t have family in BC. The Sherwood’s were my BC family and I always knew that I could rely on them.”

John and Susanne loved celebrations and gatherings, which bonded the Classic team. Their generosity towards others was unique and special. “I remember sitting on the floor with Susanne stuffing stockings for the caregivers. Many of them had no family and it was important to Susanne to do that for Classic’s employees and clients.”

Taking Time To Understand the Client

Andrea’s favourite part of her job was doing client visits. She is a big advocate for learning who the client is as a person before asking about their care needs. Her personal touch left a lasting impact and is still praised within Classic LifeCare today.

She values Jan’s advice to listen and appreciates the time she was given for inquiries; they were never rushed. Andrea recalls Jan saying, “You have two ears and one mouth, so listen.” She shares a meaningful part of her job “I had the honour of being present for many people’s final moments. I was with clients’ families during their hardest times, comforting them.”


Andrea’s Lasting Legacy

Andrea will always be an important leader within Classic LifeCare. Her hope for the company is to grow and diversify the business while remaining true to its beginnings. “It is important for the leaders and our long-term employees to live by our corporate values and teach the next generation. I hope Classic always remembers its roots.” Andrea’s incredible journey at Classic LifeCare stands as a testament to dedication, growth, and the immeasurable impact of compassionate, personalized care.