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96% of residents felt their Chartwell Residence took important measures to keep them safe during COVID-19. "Listening to Serve You Better" 2020 survey results.

A Note from our CEO

September 22, 2020

With the recent increases in the number of daily COVID-19 cases across the country, this is no time for retirement and long term care operators, our governments, public health authorities and the general public to be complacent. We all bear the responsibility to minimize the risk of transmission of this virus and to effectively manage outbreaks in our communities and in senior living residences, when they occur. I know that Chartwell is now better prepared to prevent, respond to and manage potential outbreaks then we were back in the spring. I also know that no operator, no matter how sophisticated, can be successful in fighting this pandemic without the effective collaboration and support from the public health system partners and governments.

To successfully move forward, one must well understand the lessons from the past. In today’s information age, it becomes even more important than ever to base our learnings on facts, rather than on biased, unsubstantiated or ill-informed opinions, or media soundbites.

There is a significant difference between retirement residences and long term care homes. This difference, unfortunately, is not yet well understood by the general public. Retirement residences serve more independent and healthier residents in a physical setting similar to that of an apartment, with the physical layout of the building more conductive to adapting to physical distancing protocols for dining, activities and peer engagement. Long term care homes serve more frail residents with much higher acuity and care needs, and are highly regulated and funded by the provincial governments. Many older long term care homes in Ontario lack amenity spaces and have a significant proportion of their rooms shared by three or four residents, making physical distancing, cohorting and isolation difficult, if not impossible. As a result, the impact of outbreaks was significantly worse in these long term care homes than in retirement residences.

To analyze what transpired in the Ontario long term care sector during the first wave of COVID-19 outbreaks, and to separate facts from myths, Brent Binions, our Board member and past President and CEO, wrote a paper that we are pleased to release here. Based on over 40 years of experience in senior living, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Ontario long term care sector’s history, Brent’s research and insights are invaluable and very timely. I invite you all to read this paper carefully and share it within your networks.

Recently, Chartwell found itself in the middle of a controversy created by the media implying that we are lobbying the governments to remove the 14-day isolation requirements for new residents in our retirement residences. It was also implied that we are doing this in our pursuit of occupancy growth to the detriment of the safety of our residents and staff. This is false. There is no lobbying of any kind and the safety of our residents, their families and our staff has always been and will continue to be our priority.

Having said that, at the time when visitors are appropriately allowed in our residences and our current residents are appropriately free to go out, the isolation of new residents for 14 days does not seem appropriate. These new residents move into retirement communities because they need support, sometimes with the activities of daily living, but almost always for social support. It is these new residents who may have just gone through a long period of social isolation in their homes, often living alone and not being able to see their loved ones due to the pandemic. Requiring them to go through an additional two weeks of isolation in their new environment, during a time that is stressful to them and their families, is overly punitive. Remember, isolation means people can't even go out for walks, have non-essential visitors or socially-spaced contact with other residents. There are examples in British Columbia of other enhanced precautionary measures that protect both existing and in-coming residents and staff that have been implemented for independent living residences. These measures are less restrictive and punitive and should be considered instead of isolation.

While the requirements to isolate remain in place, we have developed a transition program for our new residents that provides them with special experiences every day of this initial period of their life at Chartwell. I know that the staff at our retirement residences do an exceptional job of creating these personalized and memorable experiences for our new and existing residents every day, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Recognition: Karen Sullivan, President and COO

It is a great honour for me to announce that Karen Sullivan, Chartwell’s President and COO, was selected as a recipient of the 2020 Ontario Retirement Communities Association Donna Holwell Legacy Award. This award recognizes exceptional industry leaders who, like Donna, have contributed tireless and measurably toward making a positive impact in retirement living.

Karen has a remarkable 33 years of experience and an extensive knowledge of the retirement living, earning a deep respect of operators, associations and government decision makers in Ontario and across the country.

While Karen would be the first to say that nothing compares with the sacrifice of workers on the front lines, her influence has undeniably affected countless employees across the entire sector including the recent establishment of CaRES, an idea she developed in the midst of the pandemic to support those working in senior living and experiencing financial hardship.

Within Chartwell, we are lucky to know her on a much more personal and professional level and benefit daily from her incredible intelligence, passion, humour and commitment to our company and her colleagues.

Please join me in congratulating Karen on his well-deserved recognition acknowledging the immense effect she has had on senior living in Canada.

While available only in English, if you would like to see the video segment of the Award Presentation, you can use this YouTube link.

What I am reading:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, an award winning Canadian author. It is a captivating work of fiction parts of which take place in Toronto. This novel, written in 2014 tells a story of several people who survived a fictional worldwide pandemic known as "Georgia Flu." The otherwise tragic story offers hope and comfort that while peoples' lives have changed completely and irrevocably, most remain good at heart and creative in building their new world.

Vlad Volodarski
Chief Executive Officer

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Questions about living at Chartwell?

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