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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

New supportive housing for seniors

By Mike Hajmasy​

A new agreement between CAMH and LOFT Community Services is offering transitional support and housing for older adults living with mental health and behavioural challenges. 

The first two floors of 30 White Squirrel Way at CAMH’s Queen Street site now feature 12 apartment-style rooms for Alternate Level of Care (ALC) clients who no longer require inpatient beds, but need supportive housing as they transition out of hospital.

LOFT community housing at CAMH
The McCain Building at 30 White Squirrel Way (Queen Street site), now home to LOFT transitional housing.​

“These individuals often remain in hospital too long because of insufficient high-support housing in the community or due to long wait times for placement in long-term care facilities,” explains Ann Pottinger, Clinical Director with CAMH’s Complex Care and Recovery Program. “LOFT promotes recovery and independence for people with these complex challenges, and its Specialized Assisted Living Program helps seniors attain housing and remain independent in a home of their own for as long as possible.”

With community partner-run transitional housing right on site, it’s expected that hospital beds will be more readily available for those who need them most. 

Living with dignity

Modelled after the John Gibson House Stepping Stone Project, the new CAMH-LOFT initiative provides residents with temporary housing for three to six months before finding them a permanent home in the community.

“LOFT is thrilled to launch this new initiative at CAMH,” says Debra Walko, Director of Seniors Services at LOFT. “This builds on our current collaborative work to develop and implement a person-centered model of transitional support for ALC clients, with the ultimate goal of supporting them in living with dignity out in the community.”

Personal Support Workers, Case Managers and Life Enrichment Workers from LOFT are on site and available 24/7 to provide specialized and enhanced assisted living, serve meals and facilitate a host of social activities for residents.

In addition to providing the physical space, CAMH offers weekly check-ins as well as psychiatric and behavioural support and consultation.

Home for the holidays

The timing couldn’t have been better for Eric and David, the first two residents of the LOFT space at CAMH who moved into their new home on December 21st, just in time for the holidays. 

With bags in hand, former CAMH clients Eric (second from left) and David (third) walk from CAMH’s Geriatric Admission Units
(GAU) at the Intergenerational Wellness Building to the new LOFT transitional housing at 30 WSW.  ​

Eric and David received a warm welcome from the LOFT team, including Program Directors Lindor Uygur and Breanne Ciacco, who gave the new residents a chance to explore the space, complete with individual bedrooms and ensuite washrooms, a shared rec room and kitchen. 

David (blue coat, front) and Eric (black shirt, front) are the first two residents of LOFT’s transitional housing at 30 WSW. 

“It’s nice to have a feeling of personal freedom and my own space here,” said Eric, who had been on the GAU since September 2017. “It encourages me to keep going; I feel a greater sense of responsibility to look after myself.”

Feeling motivated, Eric says he looks forward to eventually getting back into the community and rekindling a relationship with his three adult children.  

“I feel I have the wherewithal to do that now.” ​​​​​​​​​​

Published on January 10, 2018​​​​

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