A Dignified Life: Derven’s Story

LOFT’s John Gibson House provides a home and a community.

On the search for a better life, Derven immigrated to Canada from Jamaica at the age of 29. He began working, eventually starting a family. Now a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather, Derven was in his 40s when he first noticed that something was wrong.

Initially suffering from depression, he was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. After seeking assistance at the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), Derven was able to successfully manage his own mental health. He lived independently in the community for many years, but was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. With this new diagnosis, Derven was no longer able to care for himself. That’s when he found LOFT.

For the past six months, Derven has lived in his own unit at LOFT’s John Gibson House, a high-support housing program for seniors facing mental health challenges and/or struggling with addiction. At John Gibson House Derven receives practical assistance from Personal Support Workers, including personal care, housekeeping, laundry and escorts to appointments.

With support in place, Derven is able to keep busy and engaged. He assists staff by decorating, cleaning, and setting up programs. An active member of his church community, he also participates in BINGO, art, trivia and discussion groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited access to these activities, and Derven has found the isolation difficult. His freedom and independence are very important to him, as is his faith, and he can often be found listening to prayers and sermons on his phone. Derven looks forward to better days when he can resume his active life with his friends.

LOFT’s John Gibson House provides high-support housing for some of the most vulnerable, at-risk and frail older adults and seniors in the community. The program offers 24-hour on-site staffing and access to services for seniors with serious mental illness.