Dawn Harsch has a clear vision of quality seniors care, and she has made that vision an exquisite reality.
Dawn acquired a special appreciation for her elders at a very young age – perhaps in the moments she learned to dance at the age of four, her tiny feet perched on her grandfather Lorne’s as he hummed a tune to a favourite dance in their kitchen. For Dawn, our elder citizens are one of our society’s greatest treasures, and each should be cared for with love, respect and admiration.
This deep regard for seniors led Dawn to a career in nursing. She started as a psychiatric aide working with patients with dementia, where she vividly remembers meeting an elderly gentleman who was one of the last people to see Amelia Earhart alive, and another who had worked on Alberta’s first oil rig. Already, Dawn was asking herself why people who are part of the fabric of our society must be housed in six-bed wards with shared bathrooms and concrete floors.
Her continued work as a registered nurse brought her close to many Alberta individuals and families and their struggles with finding the care and housing they wanted for their loved ones. Most long-term care facilities offer quality medical care. But what about quality of life? As Dawn’s career in nursing progressed to leadership roles in Alberta’s health system, Dawn could see that there was room for improvement in both the care offered and the housing model for delivering care to our senior citizens.
Inspired by a desire to make a big difference, Dawn pursued an MBA and honed her vision for a new venture: combining top-notch medical care, an innovative housing model and quality of life for seniors. Dawn’s vision included finding a way to truly partner with families in the care of their elders. Her connection to both her parents and grandparents was a source of continued motivation. She couldn’t see anywhere in the health care system that she would want to place her loved ones, should they require long term care.
After completing her own family, Dawn, with her husband’s support, made a decision to put both her health care experience and her leadership skills to the best possible use. They custom-built a beautiful 10-bedroom home nestled along a lovely neighbourly residential street in southwest Edmonton and in May, 2012 opened the doors to the first ExquisiCare home.
ExquisiCare offers a distinct alternative to an institutional environment. Seniors care has been brought to life and celebrated in a truly extended family-like setting. Step inside one of the ExquisiCare homes and you will be warmed by that special feeling of being at home, greeted by name, and delighted by the welcome of belonging and the sights and sounds of a happy home. The delightful aroma of the dinner roast in the oven, or happy voices dancing out from the living room are hallmark experiences in an ExquisiCare home. Family photos line the walls as you find your way to join everyone in one of the great rooms, purposely designed to welcome in plenty of natural light. Here residents’ families are welcomed as partners in their care, while the ExquisiCare staff meet their goal of delivering client-centred residential care grounded in the values of love, reverence, and family.
Dawn’s commitment to creating a nurturing and loving environment where elders are cared for with reverence in a family-like setting remains the driving force behind the ExquisiCare home experience.