Wednesday, January 20, 2021Canada's Leading Online Business Magazine

Hawthorn Retirement Group


When the time came for Bob Colson to find a retirement community for his mother-in-law, he couldn’t find an option that he felt was “good enough” for his wife’s mother, a place in which his mother-in-law would keep her independence, dignity, and happiness, yet still have access to care services as she grew to need them. So Colson built his own.

Colson started out the first Hawthorn Retirement home in the 1970s on the philosophy of incorporating an integrated approach to wellness for the mind, body and spirit. Researching Hawthorn Retirement Group—a proven leader in the industry for over three decades—shows a holistic approach to managing and providing care services has been the key to this dynamic and progressive business. The owners and operators at Hawthorn provide health and hospice care approach for their communities which fosters connection and friendship, the response to which was so positive, Hawthorn has expanded to serve senior communities throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Colson decided to build a type of housing that equals freedom and independence and he founded the company on a moral basis of the golden rule,” says Larry Wright, Director of Marketing, Hawthorn. One of the prevailing mantras of all Hawthorn Retirement Group staff is “you never go wrong doing the right thing”, a quote that is referenced by all staff members.

“In every situation in which we have grown as a company, as we are making decisions, we are asking always what is the right thing to do, what is the right thing for our residents, how will this impact them and our staff?” says  Wright. “We make sure that we are using this compass for making the best decisions.”
All Hawthorn Retirement Communities offer full amenities and services for its residents, including private apartments with convenient kitchenettes and spacious bathrooms, housekeeping and maintenance services, and three delicious chef-prepared meals each day.

Residents are also offered a wide variety of activities, including an exciting wellness and fitness program, seasonal and holiday celebrations, in-house movies, group outings, and transportation for appointments and shopping. Residents are left to use their time and energy to enjoy life, leaving the business of upkeep to Hawthorn’s capable staff.

Hawthorn Retirement Communities distinguish itself by having all managers—typically a husband and wife team—live on premise full-time. “Our managers live in the building, so it’s their home too. They eat their meals there, prepared by a certified chef and accommodating the various dietary requirements of different residents, and experience that lifestyle as being residents living in the building.”

Despite the organizations tremendous growth, residencies are operated like large families. Special touches, such as having all managers personally pour coffee, and provide three meals a day, it is a unique and wonderful approach to ensuring residents are happy and healthy. “Say someone doesn’t show up for a meal, it gives us a chance to knock on their door and say, ‘Hey, how is it going today? Is everything all right? Can I get you anything?’” says Wright.

In addition, a set of assistant managers also live in the building. “All of our apartments have emergency pull chords, and if one of our residents pull it, our managers are there to show up and say ‘How can I help you?’, and help them through whatever challenge they are having.”

The extra care and family environment goes a long way in the comfort and happiness of both residents and their family members. One resident of Oregon said, “It is comforting to know that there are still people that will truly go out of their way to assist someone who is truly under the weather. Caring assistance was afforded to me from all staff levels. This has truly enriched my living experience here.”

Four decades since Colson, now Wright’s own parents reside in one of Hawthorn’s communities.

“The essence is that this is home. It’s not the home that they were living in for 50 years and raised their families in and nothing will ever replace, but our hope is that we can be a wonderful second option for people when they are ready for this transition.”

What Hawthorn Retirement Group strives to do in part is free up residents’ time, take responsibility for the daily maintenance of life, such as buying groceries, doing yard work and cleaning the house, tasks which absorb precious energy. “Once they moved, I don’t remember a time when I’ve seen my parents more energized, more involved, more life,” says Wright. “It’s beautiful to be able to provide that for other people’s parents and grandparents.”

The present group of Hawthorn owners and operators are continuing a legacy of quality started by Colson. Speaking with Wright, one is impressed with the notion that Hawthorn Retirement Group wants to provide services that its residents deserve at this stage of life, which precipitated the expansion of housing and health support services to seniors around the world.