As Gayle Gordichuk sits and stares out the window of her Nanaimo group home, her pet cat, Jessie, rubs up against her chair and purrs.
For more than three years, Gordichuk has called Hillside Group Home her home.
“I’m safe here,” Gordichuk said.
But lately, Gordichuk has been wondering about her future at Hillside after learning that she may have to move somewhere else.
Gordichuk is one of four women who live at Hillside near Linley Valley. The group home, which opened five years ago, provides around-the-clock care and safety to women with developmental disabilities. Residents are placed in the facility by Community Living B.C. and are generally considered permanent.
“This is a specialized home in that we deal with women who need to either be safe from themselves or safe from others,” said Jayne Eisler, executive director of Hillside. “This is a very secure facility. People can come and go but everything is monitored. Whereas in most other group homes the security is not as high.”
According to Eisler, Community Living informed her that it is examining options to move Gordichuk to a different type of facility, citing her improved condition and lack of available space.
Gordichuk was placed into Hillside by Community Living in 2012 after bouncing around from various motels and trailers in Nanaimo and Port Alberni.
Prior to Hillside, Gordichuk struggled with drugs and alcohol and had a difficult time taking care of herself. She said the care provided by the staff at Hillside is ideal for her situation and that leaving Hillside and going to another less-secure facility would likely result in her returning to old habits.
According to Gordichuk, when she was placed into Hillside, she was told by Community Living that she would be a permanent resident of the facility.
Patricia Hall, external relations advisor for Community Living B.C., told the News Bulletin in an e-mail that specific cases cannot be discussed due to privacy laws, but said patients and individual needs can change over time.
“When people’s needs change, [Community Living] works with the individual, their family and service providers to update their supports so they are the most appropriate for their disability-related needs,” Hall said, adding Community Living provides families and residents the opportunity to make a formal complaint.
Eisler said she wants the best for Gordichuk and her residents, regardless of where they are placed, but she wonders about the criteria Community Living uses, pointing out that all of the women at Hillside have improved drastically since they arrived and could be candidates for relocation.
“The need is great and the need is high. Gayle’s success mentally and physically is because she is here,” Eisler said. “This isn’t a treatment facility – this is a home. We don’t heal and send you on your way.”
Gordichuk wants the peace of mind of knowing she won’t be going anywhere.
“I love it here. The staff, the people, everything,” she said.