Winning the Clone Wars of Senior Living…

By Steve Moran

Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, you can’t help but hear all the hype associated with the latest movie release. While I am not here to talk about the movie franchise, I think we can all agree on some important lessons to be learned from a few cliche movie quotes.

There is do or do not. There is no try.”  ~  Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

There is one very significant company that, despite its size, rebels against the empirialist tradition of the impersonal corporate mentallity. As the largest owner and operator in the Canadian marketplace, Chartwell Retirement Residences understands the concept of “do” better than most. Chartwell didn’t just try . . . they did . . . and in a big way.

Using the Force

I had the opportunity to speak with Max Camerlain with Chartwell Retirement Residence, the Canadian-based company based out of Mississauga, Ontario. Chartwell owns and operates over 210 properties across Canada. They serve approximately 23,000-24,000 suites across the country. They are in the four major provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec — offering a wide range of services from very independent living homes in different markets to long-term care in Ontario and a little bit of long-term care in the west as well.

“These are not the droids you’re looking for.”  ~  Obi Wan Kenobi, A New Hope

So with a company that large, I can’t help but wonder how they manage to maintain a personalized, unique approach without getting lost in the routine of robotic, droid-like repetition. I asked Max directly how Chartwell manages to be different and unique in the marketplace.

“I’d have to say the culture is going to be a big part of it. We were brought together by bringing four companies of senior housing together. We’re managed by people who have been in the business for a very very long time. So we don’t come at this very much from a real estate approach, although there’s a big part of what we do that is real estate. We really go at it from the service level perspective. Everybody, from our CEO and people in the head office, have worked in the residence. They know the market well, they’ve been in the business for a long time. So we really try to approach our relationship with our customers and our relationship with our staff based on our culture of making people’s lives better. It’s a culture that we think is very important and that we don’t take lightly at all.”

Winning the Clone War

Max perfectly summarizes what makes Chartwell standout above the mass of repetitive, copy cat communities.

“What we aspire to, at the end of the day, is to celebrate everyone’s uniqueness,” Max clarifies. “Everybody does what they do and they do it well. We’ve got some great competition out there, out here in the Canadian marketplace. We really try to concentrate and celebrate what makes every individual unique. You will rarely go into two Chartwell properties that are the same. Everybody is different in their different locations. We’re not a cookie cutter kind of operation that you reproduce everywhere.  We’ve grown. We’ve got some older buildings, we’ve got some younger buildings, we’ve got some huge buildings, we’ve got some small buildings. So when you put all that together, really what you’re trying to go for is something that will come back to your most common denominator, if you will, and that being the uniqueness of every resident.”

To learn more about Chartwell, listen to the rest of my podcast with Max Camerlain here: