Charles Cantos: Transforming Canada’s Senior Living with Holistic Communities and Services

Charles Cantos

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Overview :

Key Points:

  • Since 2013, Charles Cantos has been developing and operating senior living residences in British Columbia, with a focus on creating age-friendly communities that promote well-being for seniors in mind, body, and spirit.
  • His company, ATL Senior Living, has completed five projects across the province, offering specialized programs and services such as restorative care, art therapy, and pastoral care.
  • Charles also raised CAD 13.50 million for the Camellia Residences project, demonstrating his fundraising skills and vision for the future of senior living in Canada.

“Building communities for seniors.”

That’s the motto of Charles Cantos, founder and CEO of ATL Senior Living, a company that develops and operates senior communities in British Columbia.

Since its inception in 2013, the company has completed five projects, with more in the pipeline. The company focuses on providing holistic and patient-centered services to enhance the well-being of the people they serve.

Cantos and his team, creating communities for seniors means addressing the challenges and opportunities of the aging population in Canada, such as long-term care, social isolation, and healthy aging. It also means leveraging technology, such as telehealth and smart home systems, to enhance the quality of life and care for seniors.

Global Healthcare Magazine recently interviewed Charles Cantos to learn more about his journey, achievements, and his vision for the future of senior living in Canada.

GHM: How do you assess the Canadian healthcare system? What are the main challenges and opportunities that it faces?

Charles: Canada has a universal healthcare system that provides essential services to all citizens, funded mainly by taxes. However, the system faces challenges such as long wait times, regional disparities in access and quality, and strains from the aging population.

The aging population increases the demand and cost for specialized services such as long-term care, home care, and palliative care. Moreover, many seniors struggle with social isolation, loneliness, and poor quality of care in some facilities.

On the other hand, the aging population also creates opportunities for innovation and improvement. For example, we can develop age-friendly communities that support seniors’ well-being and independence, use telehealth to reach remote areas and reduce wait times, and promote healthy aging and prevention strategies to lower long-term costs. Furthermore, we can involve seniors more in healthcare planning and delivery, respecting their preferences and perspectives.

GHM: Could you please tell us how ATL Senior Living came to be and what drives your mission? How do you differentiate yourself from other providers in terms of the environment and services you offer to your residents?

Charles: ATL Senior Living was founded in 2013. We develop and operate senior communities in British Columbia, with five projects in Lillooet, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, Penticton, and Surrey.

Our vision is to emerge as a leader of Canada’s senior living industry and fulfill the mission of “improving the well-being of the people we serve by promoting community, dignity and independence through the aging process.”

We are different from our competitors because we create harmonious, age-friendly communities that foster well-being for seniors in all aspects, not just a place to live. We provide our residents with a holistic environment and patient-centered services that cater to their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Some of our specialized programs include restorative care, art therapy, and pastoral care.

GHM: You have a diverse and impressive academic background in technology and management. What inspired you to apply your passion for technology to the field of healthcare?

Charles: I studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Technology Management, where I learned the fundamentals of both technology and management.

I pursued continuous learning and skill development through various training programs at Oracle University and the PHSA Learning Centre, where I completed over 80 courses and 30 seminars in Technology and Soft Skills, and 15 courses in Supply Chain and Management Development.

Besides my academic achievements, I have also been a member of various professional associations, such as the National Healthcare Technical Standards, PeopleSoft Alumni, Surrey Board of Trade – Health and Technology Policy Team, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University – Generative Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee.

My passion for technology and healthcare stems from a combination of factors, including a desire to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. I was fascinated by the intersection of healthcare and technology and how innovation can improve patient care, optimize healthcare delivery, and enhance overall health outcomes. This passion has motivated me to pursue a career in the healthcare industry.

GHM: What are your primary duties and accomplishments as the founder of ATL Senior Living?

Charles: As the founder of ATL Senior Living, I have the following responsibilities:

  • Overseeing all major decisions, operations, and resources
  • Communicating with the board of directors and advisory board
  • Directing the daily operational aspects of ATL
  • Developing sustainable strategies for organizational growth

One of the highlights of my career was the successful acquisition and re-development of Kanaka Creek Seniors Centre in 2013. Some of my other achievements include:

  • Leading the development and construction of Camellia Residences, a 121-unit retirement community in Surrey, completing the project $2.5 million under budget in 2021
  • Fundraising CAD 13.50 million for the Camellia Residences project

At present, I am managing retirement living projects in Surrey, Penticton, and Lillooet. I also introduced a unique program at Camellia Residences to foster intergenerational connections between children and seniors, enriching the community and enhancing the well-being of residents.

GHM: Entering the senior living home sector during COVID-19 must have been a daunting challenge. How did you manage to navigate the difficulties and achieve success in this field?

Charles: The pandemic posed many difficulties, such as complying with regulatory requirements, meeting the needs of senior residents, and delivering high-quality care.

To overcome this challenge, we adopted a strategic approach. First, we acknowledged our limitations and sought expertise in the field. We hired qualified and experienced staff in senior living operations, management, and healthcare services.

Another key factor was collaboration and teamwork. We leveraged the diverse skills and knowledge of our team members to address various aspects of the challenge. We fostered open communication and transparency, ensuring that everyone was on the same page about the goals and objectives of the project.

Moreover, we invested in ongoing training and education for our team members to enhance their knowledge and skills in senior living management and operations. This helped us to gain a deeper understanding of the industry and better prepared us to overcome obstacles and drive success.

GHM: What is the size and structure of your team? How do you attract and retain top talent in a competitive healthcare landscape?

Charles: Our team size and structure depend on the project or facility we are managing. Generally, we have a multidisciplinary team of professionals in various roles, such as project management, operations, finance, marketing, and healthcare services.

We have several strategies to achieve this goal. Competitive compensation and benefits are one of our key strategies. We ensure that our team members feel valued and rewarded for their work by offering attractive salaries and benefits packages.

We also provide professional development opportunities for continuous learning and growth. We support our team members to pursue further education or certifications and offer training programs and workshops.

Another strategy is to foster a supportive work environment where team members can share ideas, take initiative, and contribute to the organization’s success. We have various incentives, bonuses, and recognition programs to reward exceptional performance and contributions.

Work-life balance is also a priority for us. We help our team members balance their work and personal lives by offering flexible work arrangements, telecommuting options, and supportive policies.

Lastly, we cultivate a positive company culture that values diversity, inclusion, and teamwork. We ensure that all team members feel respected, supported, and included.

GHM: How do you lead and motivate your team to foster innovation and improvement?

Charles: Clear communication, empowerment, and collaboration are the basis of my approach to leading and motivating my team. I help my team succeed by setting clear goals and expectations and providing the necessary resources and support. I also make everyone feel valued and heard by encouraging open communication, feedback, and idea-sharing.

I adopt several practices to achieve this goal. Experimentation and learning is one of these practices. I encourage my team to embrace new ideas and technologies, think creatively, and take calculated risks. I also enhance their skills and knowledge by providing opportunities for professional development and training.

Adaptability and agility is another practice. I help my team stay ahead in a dynamic environment by promoting a mindset where we continuously assess and refine our processes and strategies. I also promote a culture of innovation and improvement by celebrating successes and learning from failures.

GHM: The healthcare landscape in Canada is constantly evolving. How do you envision the future of healthcare in Canada, especially for senior living?

Charles: I envision a holistic approach to aging well and healthcare delivery for seniors in Canada. This will involve:

  • Promoting healthy aging and providing comprehensive care and support services for seniors
  • Leveraging emerging technologies and trends, such as telehealth, remote monitoring, AI-powered assistive technologies, and smart home devices, to enhance convenience, safety, comfort, and independence for seniors
  • Prioritizing person-centered care and innovative models of senior living that foster social engagement, wellness programs, and intergenerational activities to combat social isolation and loneliness and promote well-being and mental health for seniors
  • Integrating with the broader healthcare system to coordinate care delivery, including primary care, rehabilitation services, and specialized geriatric care

This will ensure that seniors can age with dignity, autonomy, and optimal health outcomes in a supportive and inclusive environment.

GHM: How do you balance your work and personal life? What are some of the activities that you enjoy outside of work?

Charles: I achieve a balance between work and personal life by setting boundaries and making time for fulfilling activities. Outside of work, I enjoy various hobbies and interests that help me relax and recharge. For example, I coach and play soccer with my sons, which keeps me active.

I also spend quality time with family and friends, explore new places, and engage in creative pursuits such as cooking or writing. These activities help me maintain a balanced lifestyle that promotes well-being and happiness.

GHM: What message or advice would you like to give to the next generation of Canadian healthcare leaders?

Charles: To the next generation of Canadian healthcare leaders, I would like to offer a message of encouragement and a call to action. As you embark on your journey, I urge you to remember the importance of empathy, innovation, and collaboration.

You have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others through patient care, policy advocacy, or organizational leadership.

Be curious and open-minded, and seek new solutions and technologies for complex challenges.

Empower and inspire others to achieve their potential by fostering a culture of inclusivity, diversity, and equity. Recognize the unique perspectives and contributions of each individual.

Be resilient and adaptable in a dynamic and uncertain environment. Lead with compassion and drive positive change and outcomes for all Canadians.

Approach your work with passion, purpose, and excellence. Together, we can build a healthcare system that meets the needs of individuals and communities across Canada.

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Also Read: Canada’s Most Visionary Leaders in Healthcare,2024

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