Our 15th Anniversary

This month marks the 15th anniversary of Warm Embrace Elder Care!  It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years already…they say that time flies when you’re having fun so we must have a ton of fun at Warm Embrace because 15 years have flown by!  While we certainly do have fun at Warm Embrace, I also think time flies when you are helping others and doing something meaningful that is aligned with your values.

 

 

This time 15 years ago, my mother and I were sitting on my living room couch, brainstorming possible company names. When we settled on Warm Embrace Elder Care we registered the company in October 2007.  Initially we worked out of the living room of my first little starter home—a tiny, storey-and-half wartime house near St. Mary’s Hospital. Needless to say, there wasn’t much space, and there certainly wasn’t any distinction between office and personal space!

 

For a break from the tiny space, we’d often go for walking meetings. We can each distinctly remember walking the historic neighbourhoods in the hospital district discussing various decisions. One day stands out in particular, when we reached the point that most startups reach—no money left in the bank, and no one willing to lend to us either!  Of course, having opened in 2007, our timing meant that right as we were trying to build the company, the market crash of 2008 hit. Lenders became incredibly cautious, and apparently a mother-daughter duo starting a homecare business did not align with their 2008 lending portfolios!

 

Those were certainly stressful days, but what always carried us through was our belief in our mission and values. We knew we could make a difference in the lives of seniors, and we were seeing first-hand the positive impacts on the few clients that we had. We never considered quitting; we had clients who depended on our care.

 

 

Our very first client was a resident in long term care who had advanced dementia. She was wheelchair bound and non-verbal. She was often on the outskirts of activities and people would dismiss her saying “she doesn’t even know who anyone is.” Boy were they wrong!  If only they could have seen her face light up when her caregiver stepped into the room!  Her entire countenance changed—she sat up straighter, she smiled, she was engaged. While she couldn’t call someone by name, she knew when a visitor was there to see her personally. The light in her eyes made every visit worthwhile.

 

Perhaps it was also our family connection that fostered the care for clients and our perseverance to grow. Nothing keeps you accountable like working with family! Our mother-daughter duo grew to include my sister as well.  For years we’ve been a mother and two daughters operating Warm Embrace.  Not only are we proud to be female entrepreneurs and business owners; we are proud to be the only homecare company in the region which has had consistent management for 15 years and counting.

 

 

Every single year we have experienced growth. Some years, especially in the early years, there were growing pains as we doubled year over year. Other years, we grew in a more controlled manner as we focused on implementing new scheduling software or updating systems and procedures. We continually focus on how we can improve and never assume that we can just sit back and coast. Our clients and our caregivers deserve the best and it is up to us to fulfill that. Growing our internal office team has been an integral part of our growth; we have the most fabulous office team that is truly like extended family!

 

Due to our growth, we needed more suitable office space. After years of looking for just the right office space to grow into, we finally found our dream space in October 2019.  The building is over 100 years old and required extensive renovation that lasted for months. We gave advance notice to our landlord at the time and set our moving date for April 30, 2020.  You can imagine what a scramble it was to finish the renovation in March and April of 2020, right as pandemic shutdowns came into effect!  While I certainly don’t recommend moving at the height of shutdowns, you don’t get to select the timing of such things, and we forged ahead on schedule.  All these years later, here we are at 265 Frederick St., not all that far from our original roots near St. Mary’s hospital!

 

Over the past 15 years we have served thousands of clients and their families. It has been an absolute honour to make a difference for each of these families in their hour of need.  We have the privilege of working together with the most incredible team of caregivers. They are truly special people who care deeply for others and exude empathy. We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated team of caregivers who ensure that clients are well cared for around-the-clock, every day of the year, including holidays. We could not do it without our amazing office team who quietly manage all the details behind-the-scenes to ensure that everything is seamless for caregivers and clients alike.

 

Thank you to everyone who has been part of our incredible journey over the past 15 years. We look forward to continuing to serve the elders in our community. Thank you for your continued support!

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Enduring Love

One of the greatest honours I have in my position at Warm Embrace Elder Care, is to witness the lives of our incredible clients, and to be invited into their lives at such an important moment.  I am frequently astounded at all the challenges my elderly clients have overcome, and their subsequent life view.

Witnessing love that has developed over a 65 year marriage is phenomenal. I recently met a couple who is in their mid-eighties and is approaching their 66th wedding anniversary.  I marveled at the feat and asked how they had initially met.

 


 

She was 19 and he was 22 years old.  He arrived late to a dance, and just as he was arriving, she was packing up to leave.  He thought she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, and he overcame his usual shyness and requested a dance with her.  She conceded, and they danced the night away.  Sixty-five years later, that couple is still waltzing through life together.


How incredible!  As very young adults, they were attracted to each other, and then created love out of that union.  The gentleman told me that: “she was so beautiful that I thought I loved her. I didn’t even know what love was yet! It is now that I truly love her.  I love her more and more each year.”

 

To be in the presence of such enduring love, such dedication and loyalty, is truly humbling.  In today’s world, young people in their late teens and early twenties feel they don’t know themselves yet, much less have the ability to truly know someone else.  Today’s young generation wait to “fall” in love and find a “perfect” partner.  The generation that married 65 years ago had a totally different approach.  They found a partner with whom they could connect, and they determined to create love and create a life together.  Quitting wasn’t an option; when trouble arose, they faced it together and created a solution.

 

The couple was curious about my fascination with their 65-year marriage. They don’t  view it as being extraordinary in anyway; I was clearly impressed.  I explained how there are entire sections of bookstores dedicated to self-help guidance on relationships, love, and marriage.  They guffawed and thought that was ridiculous; then the woman said: “I’m not saying it was always easy.  It wasn’t.  We had our troubles just like anyone else.  But we made a promise to each other, and we’re people who keep our word. So when it got tough, we just decided to keep going and wait for the feeling of love to return.  Sure enough, it did!”  I teased her that with advice as simple and straightforward as that, she might put the relationship section of the bookstore out of business!

 

These two marvelous people are so interconnected that they almost operate as one.  They’re beyond finishing each other’s sentences; it seems they sometimes communicate without even saying a word! 

They know each other’s likes and dislikes right down to the correct teaspoon served with afternoon tea.  They can only recollect being apart for a handful of nights their entire marriage. 
 
Now, life has become just a little more challenging, and living together at home requires some assistance.  What an honour it is for us to provide the caregiving this couple needs to remain at home together. 
I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for this couple to be split up if one person were sent to a nursing home and the other remained at home. They can’t even fathom it!  Thank goodness home care allows them to remain together, and allows their touching love story to continue.

They tell me that this is the final chapter of their love story.  With all the adversity this couple has faced and survived, I wouldn’t be surprised if they celebrated their 70th and 75th wedding anniversaries!  I’m so privileged to witness and be inspired by this enduring love. 

If you have a story of Enduring Love, please share it with us!  We love to hear inspiring love stories!
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