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Janet Sherwood’s Pioneering Vision and Legacy

By February 29, 2024March 7th, 2024Moments
Janet Sherwood's vision and legacy

Brave, determined, and visionary – these are just a few of the remarkable qualities that define Classic LifeCare’s founder, Janet Sherwood. Without her courage and forward-thinking mindset, Classic LifeCare wouldn’t be the thriving entity it is today. In the landscape of 1974, it was uncommon for women to initiate and lead a business. Nevertheless, Janet embraced her vision and forged her own path.

Hailing from Australia, Janet, a Registered Nurse, arrived in Canada and met her future husband, Bill, in the 1960’s.  While raising four young boys, she recognized a community need for a nanny agency. In response, she founded Classic Personnel in 1974, later rebranded as Classic Caregivers and then Classic LifeCare.

Leveraging her nursing background and fueled by the ambition to expand, Janet ventured into offering home care services in the 1980’s. Classic Caregivers emerged as one of Vancouver’s pioneering private home care agencies, a legacy that continues to thrive five decades later. In its early years, Classic operated from the basement of Janet’s home, housing a small team of 3-4 people.


John Sherwood Continues His Mother’s Vision and Legacy

In 1999, Janet passed away from cancer, and her son, John Sherwood assumed control of the business. While Janet is no longer with us, John and the entire Classic LifeCare team embody her original mission and values in every facet of their work.

Describing his mother, John Sherwood reflects, “Janet was a maverick and in many ways before her time. Growing up in outback Australia in a family of 8 children, she was a tough taskmaster with a heart of gold. People knew if they got Janet on the phone, she would do whatever she could to help, and that she was personally committed to seeing it through to a happy result.”

Susanne Sherwood was hired by Janet and, a few years later, became Janet’s daughter-in-law when she married John Sherwood. Susanne shares her memories of Janet, “My Classic journey commenced in October 1993 when I joined as an Office Administrator. Janet hired me not based on my work experience or education, but rather on our mutual fascination with true crime and the fact that I begged her to give me a chance. She gave me that chance which kickstarted a new chapter of my life. Janet taught me more than any education ever could – she was kind, loving, tough, and extremely hard-working. She became an amazing mentor, friend, and family member. On February 7, 1999, Janet also became my mother-in-law when I married her son, John. In our late 20’s, John and I continued running the business. It was her guidance and wisdom that empowered us to continue her legacy and pursue her business dream.”


Reflections on Janet’s Leadership and Impact at Classic LifeCare

Some of Classic’s longstanding employees recall working alongside Janet Sherwood.

Andrea Warren has dedicated 25 years to Classic LifeCare and was appointed as the Executive Leader in 2011. She shares the impact that Janet had on her life, “Janet was an inspiration and a mentor for me, especially with her nursing background. She could be in a room full of men, and it didn’t phase her. Janet was always confident speaking and sharing her opinions. Back in those days, having a female boss was quite rare but she provided great guidance for me and the rest of the team. Susanne, Susan, Yvette, and I watched her lead, which fuelled our ambition. Janet’s compassion for others resonated in her work. As office staff, she allowed us time to engage and connect with our clients. She wanted us to understand them as individuals before addressing their care requirements. She used to tell us: ‘You have two ears and one mouth,’ urging us to actively listen to the person on the other end of the phone.”

Susan Fulton, the Clinical Leader at Classic LifeCare, has spent almost three decades with the company. She recalls her memories of Janet Sherwood: “Janet had a clear goal and knew exactly how to reach it. One of the things I appreciated about Janet was that she included us in her vision and brought us along on her journey. She encouraged us to be the best we could be through continuous learning and improvements. After her passing, we were a group of young leaders, and it was her prior empowerment that guided us in carrying her vision forward. Janet was very determined and if she was here today, I am certain that she would have fulfilled all her goals. She would be really proud of John for driving the business forward and continuing her legacy.”

Yvette Litterscheidt, Classic LifeCare Executive Leader, also briefly worked with Janet, “Client experience was the most important aspect for Janet. I joined Classic as a Receptionist, and a big part of my role was answering phone calls. Janet trained me on the phone and made sure I provided great service and positively represented the company. She was a perfectionist, but it worked, and that is why we are celebrating 50 years of Classic LifeCare.”


Continuing Janet Sherwood’s Vision and Legacy

In a recent conversation with a current Classic LifeCare client who knew Janet, he referred to her as “a very kind person and the smartest woman I know.” He also expressed admiration for John Sherwood, highlighting his strong family values, especially during Janet’s illness. John promptly took charge of the business to ensure its continuity.

Janet Sherwood’s legacy lives on at Classic LifeCare, shaping our values, dedication, and commitment. Her determination and visionary leadership continue to guide and inspire us every day. Janet’s vision laid the groundwork for our company, emphasizing excellence and compassionate care. Her influence fosters a culture that prioritizes clients, empowers our team, and encourages continuous improvement.