Seniors Mental Health Supportive Housing
John Gibson House provides specialized high-support housing to vulnerable and at-risk older adults and seniors. This program provides permanent and transitional housing and support services for men and women aged 55 and older with mental health, addiction and housing issues.
Without John Gibson House, these men and women would be living in nursing homes or hospitals if they were lucky, or homeless shelters if they were not so lucky. They do not require a nursing home but there are few affordable housing options available to them.
John Gibson House responds to each resident’s needs, with the goal of assisting clients to live safely and in good health in the community as they age and to postpone for as long as possible, or eliminate entirely, any need for institutional care.
John Gibson House Support services include personal support workers who provide practical assistance with the activities of daily living including housekeeping, laundry, personal hygiene and escorts to appointments in an atmosphere that is friendly and respectful. Assistance with medication is also available. The full meal program and communal dining ensure all residents receive nutritious meals and regular opportunities for social interaction. Staff members are on-site 24/7.
John Gibson House Psychogeriatric case management is available to assist residents in navigating the health care and social services systems to obtain the full range of services they need.
A full program of social and recreational activities ensures that clients have access to interesting and stimulating activities, social opportunities and group outings. Residents participate with other LOFT seniors in the LOFT Seniors Bowling League, attend that annual Garden Party and Canada Day Picnic, and enjoy in-house activities like crafts and bingo. A true bonus is the location of John Gibson House inside Toronto’s Trinity-Bellwoods Park, where residents enjoy the beautiful landscape around their home.
The Stepping Stone Project
John Gibson House Stepping Stone Project was launched in 2008 in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Toronto’s five downtown hospitals, with the goal of helping to address what is often referred to as the “ALC problem”. ALC stands for Alternative Level of Care and refers to hospital patients who have completed their care, but remain in hospital as there is no affordable housing option available for them. While they wait, they are occupying beds needed by others.
Twelve transitional units at John Gibson House are dedicated to providing support and services to enable ALC seniors to safely move back into the community. These units offer specialized, one-on-one support enabling clients to regain their confidence and learn or relearn the life skills they need to live independently.
After a few months as clients of The Stepping Stone Project clients are ready to move on to other housing. Some are able to return to complete independence, others do best in one of LOFT’s seniors supportive housing programs, and some become permanent residents of John Gibson House.
The Stepping Stone Project helps some 36 psychogeriatric patients a year to leave hospital and recover their dignity, independence and quality of life.
John Gibson House – A Home with History
Although it only became part of LOFT in 1960, John Gibson House has roots stretching back to the early 1920s and the building dates from the 1890s.
The program originated when Rev. John Elias Gibson, Rector of the Church of the Ascension, opened a community drop-in centre near the corner of Richmond and Simcoe Streets in downtown Toronto for unemployed, immigrant and homeless men. It quickly became a permanent home with fifty residents. As he aged, Rev. Gibson became concerned that his life’s work be continued and in 1958 he gave the program to the Anglican Diocese of Toronto.
The Diocese turned to LOFT (then called Anglican Houses Association) and in 1960 Rev. Gibson’s housing program joined LOFT and was renamed the Church of the Good Samaritan. In 1983 the program, affectionately known as “Good Sam”, moved to its present location in Trinity-Bellwoods Park, the original campus of Trinity College, now part of University of Toronto.
This new home – an elegant structure – was designed by the early Toronto architect Eden Smith, and built in 1899 to house St. Hilda’s College, the women’s college affiliated with Trinity College. When Trinity and St. Hilda’s moved to the University of Toronto’s Queen’s Park Campus in 1925, the building became a residence for the elderly called Strachan House.
At about the same time that Good Sam moved to the former St. Hilda’s College, it had become clear that the majority of residents were experiencing mental health and addiction issues, so this is where its services began to focus. In 1993, Good Sam was renamed John Gibson House in honour of its founder and broadened its mandate to include women.
John Gibson House was proving very successful at enabling residents to remain in the house as they aged rather than moving to nursing homes, so in the late 1990′s the program adapted once more, taking on its current mandate of service to people 55 years of age and over, with mental and physical health challenges.
Read the story of Mavis, a resident of John Gibson House.
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