Senior living leadership

How senior living has grown and will continue to evolve

In our Inspiring Leaders Series, we interview visionaries driven by a passion for excellence that’s manifest in Canada’s most innovative retirement communities. 
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Leaders behind Canada’s top senior living communities come to this industry with an intensely personal drive to provide excellent care, as you’ll witness in videos below. In their time in the industry they’ve both witnessed and spearheaded significant changes, while continually setting the bar higher to meet seniors’ changing demands. Those themes and more emerge in interviews captured below. 

Tanya Snow, Director, Bria Communities

In our interview with the leader of Bria Communities, found across Greater Vancouver, she emphasized her love of connecting with residents, both one-to-one and through programs created in Bria’s homes. Other emphases include the value seniors place on lifestyle and dining, and how technology continues to improve convenience. Future developments at the company focus on an integrated approach to community creation. 

The needs of the senior are so unique that it's like an a la carte. You tell us what you want, and it's up to us to make that happen for you... Our goal is for us to really stretch what we do so that the things that they need for their individual quality of life is something that we strive to obtain for them.

Read the full interview

Elaine Wood, former vice president of operations, Delmanor

Elaine started in the retirement industry soon after graduating from university, and since then she’s been a general manager for many years, before rising to her current role. That rise has been driven by passion as she so strongly emphasizes. Delmanor innovates by listening to residents and propagating a culture of respect, compassion, commitment, integrity and accountability.

 You have to be passionate about the work that you're doing. This is not a job. It is a calling. The compassion, the empathy, it has to be built right into your DNA. You are here helping people.

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Ernie Hee, executive vice president and Veronica Da Conceicao, general manager, OPAL

OPAL by Element is the first inter-generational living community in Canada. Here, grandparents share the building with their own kids and grandkids. In addition, amenities, features and every aspect of the building is best in class. Ernie speaks eloquently and clearly about important innovations in senior living in recent years, manifest in OPAL and elsewhere. Veronica shares the joy she feels in improving and sharing lives with the people she serves. 

We embrace having children around, where it's a big part of our residents’ lives. They don't feel like they're going into a seniors retirement community, but more like they're on vacation and they're able to bring everybody with them. But instead of vacation, it’s actually their day to day, and it's their home. 

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Karim Kassam, cofounder, Optima Living

As a board member of the British Columbia Seniors’ Living Association, Karim has a bird’s eye view of senior living operators adapting to change. While it’s obvious that he feels a personal stake in creating a true home at each Optima Living location, his respect for others in the industry is also palpable. In the interview below, he discusses the importance of learning partnerships and how those improve the care offered in his communities. 

If there's anything in our culture that we've been deliberate about, it's that it's about having the sincerity of purpose to offer the ability to someone to feel, to have that comfort, to have that dignity, to be respected, to be safe, and to do so in an environment where they can have their best life. 

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Louisa Flinn, vice president of sales and marketing, and Anna Louie, marketing director, PARC

PARC Retirement Living is noted for innovation throughout its history, highlighted recently by its meet-up centers, a widely-praised breakthrough in the darkest days of 2020. PARC has always been focused on encouraging a truly vibrant lifestyle that results in vigorous, caring communities. Here, Louisa and Anna share the evolution they’ve witnessed in the industry, along with new trends already emerging this decade, and how PARC is both abreast of and driving improvements.

[For us] it's not just about the P's and Q's, about the numbers, about it's not about always making money. It's about what you can create that really can solve certain problems and make [things] better, than it's ever been before. I mean, what if you could make senior living so great that people can't remember a time when they lived without it? 

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Marie-Jose Lafontaine, owner and operator, Scarborough Retirement Residence

Marie-Josee Lafontaine’s passion is the absolute root of everything that makes Scarborough Retirement Residence excellent. Her nearly-lifelong (starting at age 13!) commitment to senior care gives her a truly singular perspective on the industry and how it still needs to evolve. Central to her vision is a desire for deeper communication between the private pay and public health care sectors, something she believes could be transformative. Below, she shares her story and how she’s pushing the industry forward.

Innovation is oxygen! For us to breathe life into our sector, for us to evolve and to change and mature and to grow, we have to have innovation. This is an exciting time because we're fostering all that innovation. There's an appetite for it and there's some competition. I'm really excited about where we are currently. 

Read the full interview

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