Throughout her childhood, Kristan Ash watched her father struggle with lupus, a chronic condition that required repeated hospitalizations.
The experience inspired her to train to be a nurse, but she switched career tracks when she realized her true passion was in helping people to be as independent as possible and stay in their own homes.
After receiving her bachelor of business administration from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, Ash started her own home care company, Generations Home Care Solutions.
“After taking care of my husband’s grandfather, I decided that home care was definitely something that there was a huge need for,” she said.
She sold that business to home health care franchisor Nurse Next Door and spent three years there as vice-president of franchise and business development.
“It gave me the opportunity to help that many more people,” Ash said. “As a small-business owner I was limited in what I could do.”
Ash moved on to do consulting work and take a position with a group of rehabilitation clinics, which she expanded from two clinics to five. Two years ago, she switched up her career again, this time to don a hard hat and manage the construction of an independent living residence for seniors.
The project gave her new insight into the many details of designing a building for people with mobility challenges and who are at risk of social isolation.
“Even architects are not aware of some of the needs,” Ash said. “There are no building codes that are designed specifically for seniors.”
There’s no requirement, for instance, that doorways be accessible to wheelchairs, which can cause trouble if not addressed early in the design stage.
Ash now works for We Care Home Health Services, a company that offers home care as well as a range of physiotherapy and occupational therapy services.
“For me it goes back to why I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” Ash said. “I’ve always had a strong drive to make a difference.”