Pharmacy Retailers Target Growing Senior Population in Canada

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Changing demographics with aging population numbers increasing has spurred Canadian retailers to increasingly adopt additional products, services, and initiatives to meet that growing demand.

Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op, said the grocery chain serves a very broad demographic and the company has been around now for almost 65 years, with the senior demographic a key customer base.

“It’s a very loyal clientele for Calgary Co-op. They are the people who know Calgary Co-op really well. They know our team members really well, sometimes personally having shopped in the store for 15, 20, 30 years. In many cases, their member number is being used by multiple generations,” said Keelor.

Ken Keelor

“And it’s the only place I have seen in the world really where a grandchild might be using the grandparents number and then the grandparents collect the annual equity cheque and shares mailed out in their name. So a lot of our younger population sees that as an annual gift to their senior parents or grandparents.

“So having an older member number is a big source of pride. We know that that demographic is who built Calgary Co-op. We serve all the demographics but we always remember our roots. Our roots are in those people who are seniors today who’ve been loyal to us and shopped for many, many years with us. The older generation identifies with Calgary Co-op and shops with us more frequently than many other generations. So when we make change to adapt to technology or other things oftentimes we’ll hear from that older generation.”

Calgary Co-op website
Calgary Co-op website

Calgary Co-op Focuses on Core Senior Demographic

Bearing in mind those roots and the growing senior population, Keelor said the grocery retailer tries to find things focused on that demographic but others can also avail of it.

Through COVID, it launched senior shopping hours where three days a week seniors were given access to a freshly sanitized, fully stocked store first thing in the morning. It also launched care packages to seniors who were isolated.

Co-op for the past few years has also tied in with the Calgary Seniors Resource Society in assisting seniors in shopping. The grocery chain also works with Meals on Wheels which supports seniors throughout the community.

The company has also launched a number of health care initiatives to look after seniors including a virtual care platform, a web portal to book appointments, flu shots, get prescription refills online. Through COVID, the company launched curbside pickup for prescriptions which seniors love.

Seniors have also been taking advantage of a delivery service of essential items to their homes.

“We work with Alberta Health Services and hospitals to ensure that seniors have appropriate equipment. Wheelchairs and so on. A lot of that we’ve been doing for years but we know that’s very seniors’ focused and a lot of our members as they get older they look for those services and Calgary Co-op is one of the most trusted providers,” said Keelor.

“Culturally, our team members go out of their way for seniors and you see that every day.”

Co-op has three Home Health Care locations. Keelor said he does foresee the company opening more of these locations in the future.

“The thing with home health care is that’s not about how many locations. It’s really how far are you able to service clientele,” he said.

“We believe with our expertise there’s an opportunity. We continue to look for opportunities to acquire new locations, new geographies. But right now we’ve got pretty good coverage for Calgary. But we might look to geographies that are even beyond or any players in the Calgary market who are choosing to exit. A lot of people have left that home health care market because it’s very high labour and it’s very high knowledge. You really have to know what you’re doing. We stayed in there because we think it’s a very, very solid business and Calgary Co-op has always done really well at it.”

Shoppers Drug Mart Opens Edmonton MediSystem Location. Photo: CNW Group/Loblaw Companies Limited
Shoppers Drug Mart Opens Edmonton MediSystem Location. Photo: CNW Group/Loblaw Companies Limited

Shoppers Opens MediSystem in Edmonton

Recently, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. announced the opening of its new MediSystem location in Edmonton. Owned and operated by Shoppers Drug Mart, MediSystem Inc. is an established specialty pharmacy that provides pharmaceutical dispensing and clinical pharmacy consulting services to the senior housing community and group home facilities.

Shoppers said the MediSystem Pharmacy is committed to optimizing the health, wellness and safety of all facility residents through the introduction of innovative technologies, continuing education, enhanced clinical services and seamless medication delivery.

“Since our inception in 1988 we’ve been bringing leading edge technology and personal care to long term care residents across Canada,” said Sandra Daniel, Vice President of Operations and Clinical at MediSystem Pharmacy. “The opening of our new location in Edmonton will allow us to continue to support the health and well-being of the growing number of seniors in long term care and retirement home facilities through the most advanced, dependable, and personalized pharmacy care. Our investment today also reflects confidence in the future direction of health care in Alberta.”

The Edmonton MediSystem staff will include a dedicated pharmacy team, including operational and consultant pharmacists to provide on-site, end-to-end support including one-on-one counseling.

“MediSystem sees great opportunity to bring our advanced, dependable, personal pharmacy and clinical services to clients in the Edmonton long term care and retirement home housing market,” said Daniel.

“MediSystem already operates nine other pharmacy sites across Canada, and has been proudly servicing clients for over 20 years. This is an expansion of our service offering in Alberta and reflects our commitment and confidence in the future direction of health care in the province.

“At this time we are focused on our Calgary and Edmonton sites in the Alberta market. We assess market demand regularly, and look at expansion opportunities based on the individual needs of the community.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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