Andrea Nathanson is a registered nurse, author of Margie’s Gentle Journey, and co-founder of Qualicare Franchise Corp and homecare visionary.
Life and career
A native from Vancouver, Nathanson graduated from Vancouver Community College in 1982 with a Registered Nurse Diploma. She worked in different hospital environments in Canada, and during the late 1980s and early 1990s she worked in community care nursing. In addition she held various roles in occupational health care. She specialized in mental health care and palliative care advocating for the needs of patients and family members faced with complex emotional challenges, terminal illness, death and bereavement. She liaised with many physicians, hospitals, community support services and private operators.
This background gave her the skills to deal with a situation that was much closer to home. In the late 1990s, her father-in-law, Bernard "Nardy" Nathanson was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. During his three year battle with this disease, she functioned as a case manager, coordinating the care of almost 40 healthcare resources.
Following Nardy’s passing, Andrea and her husband Wayne Nathanson determined that most families were unprepared for the appearance of a medical condition (including old age) and needed sophisticated professional nurse-managed help. On September 11, 2001 they launched Qualicare Family Homecare. In 2012, they formed Qualicare Franchise Corporation, whose goal was to extend the Qualicare Family Homecare model across Canada and the United States.
In 2012, Andrea published Margie’s Gentle Journey, a poignant first person account of her experiences with a palliative care case. This work contains three themes – it demonstrates the Qualicare 360° Case Management form of holistic home care, it describes the final days of a very special and strong-willed person, and it chronicles the evolving friendship between Margie and her nurse/caregiver Andrea.
Brain Health initiative
Continuing the pattern of transforming cases into activities that benefit a broader target group, Andrea launched Brain Workout+, a structured program of exercises for families concerned about declining mental acuity. The catalyst for this program was her caregiving responsibilities for a client undergoing ECT (elctro convulsive therapy) at the Mayo Clinic. The approaches and techniques Andrea created and successfully utilized for this individual serve as the foundation of this program.
Andrea has now set her sights on helping families deal with the challenges of having someone with ALS in the family. This re-iterates the pattern of translating her homecare experiences into something benefiting a broader audience. In this case, in addition to her father-in-law’s case, she was also inspired by a case involving Funia. Funia’s ALS left her unable to speak when Andrea took on the case. However she was able to write, and Andrea took her wide-ranging observations on life with ALS and turned it into a booklet entitled Funia: The Way I Am. Her next project in this area is a series of searing, but exhilarating experiences of clients currently living with ALS, families who had a loved one who passed away from ALS and professionals who are involved with the care of these families. Set for publication in Spring 2014, this as yet untitled eBook will provide inspiring ‘gained from experience’ approaches to homecare for families dealing with ALS.
Awards and recognition
Andrea will be honored on December 9, 2013 at the Gala Dinner of Aish Toronto. The theme this year is ‘A Heritage of Healing’ to honor ‘healthcare professionals who exemplify clinical expertise, compassionate care and a commitment to Jewish values. This event is a benefit for Aish Toronto and the Jewish Health Network.