Extreme Cleaning: Compulsive Hoarding.
Finally Compulsive hoarding is now being recognised as a serious problem within the U.K 1.5 - 3 million people suffer with Compulsive hoarding with 5% that slip through the gap and are not known to any organisation.
In reality no one can say for sure what causes such an a extreme way to live. It can be triggered by a underline mental health conditions or due to traumatic events in one's life.
For some it's a compulsion to collect possessions. We are a society that believes a person has a right to live how they chose, undisturbed.
The old saying an Englishman's home is his castle, this was to mean that people believe they should control what happens in their own homes and that no one else should tell them what to do there.
This is a fair statement, but what if the person living next to you is a Compulsive Hoarder?
Compulsive Hoarding has a knock on effect, for the person who's suffering and the community.
A Compulsive hoarder is often isolated unable to stop the vicious cycle they are living in. The need to maintain their hoard which can have a detrimental effect on their lives and well-being is the compulsion.
We as a service, we deal mainly with extreme cases. Most of our clients do not have the simple comforts of life such as hot running water, or central heating, extreme cases some do not have simple things like toilet facilities or kitchen facilities.
It is very easy to judge and have no comprehension or understanding and empathy for such a situation.
In all our years of dealing with extreme cases of Compulsive Hoarding in the U.K , we have never come across one person who chooses to live like that. It's more a compulsion to hold on to possessions rather than a need for these possessions.
Which outweighs the duty of care one has for oneself.
Most cases it is a third party intervention that breaks the cycle. This is more than your average de-clutter situation.
The intervention is not often welcomed, this we do understand.
Intervention can be in a form of a notice to seek eviction or a prohibition order produced by the Council or Empty Properties Officer.
Majority of cases we deal with come from Social Services, discharge Teams attached to a hospital or O.T.
Once a person who is considered to be vulnerable has been admitted into hospital, it is the duty of care from the hospital to check the property before discharging the person.
Compulsive Hoarding years ago was more of an elderly condition. As a carer in the community looking after the elderly within their homes it was very apparent. I personally found in the care profession, the elderly tended to hoard food, personal items and memorabilia. Downsizing was an attribute to some cases also.
The most famous Compulsive Hoarder in the U.K was a gentleman called Mr Trebus an elderly man who lived in a hoarded house in Southgate London he appeared on a programme called, Life of Grime, for three years battling with Haringey Council.
It wasn't his house that was the problem it was the fact his hoard had spilled out into the front garden, which became an eye sore within the community.
Mr Trebus refused any help from the Council for many years.
Until his health began to fail him and he had no alternative but to move to a residential home where he lived happily, until he passed away at the age of 83.
Reality TV has always been big entertainment just to see how the other half live. Compulsive Hoarding has been shown for years in America, highlighting Compulsive Hoarding which unfortunately doesn't always have a positive reaction.
Here in the U.K it is such a hidden problem due to the misconceptions it brings, the lack of understanding and empathy.
We as a service have worked with countless clients helping them to regain control of their homes. We are often asked the success rate. Majority of our clients we have helped, are able to maintain their clutter free homes. But just like any condition there are relapses.
There is nothing in place for Compulsive Hoarding, Cognitive Therapy helps for a short period of time. What's needed is long term help! as well as financial help in the form of subsidised government grants, for those that need it.
We as a service have been campaigning for subsidised cleans especially for a low income tenants who can't afford the clean up operation.
We've heard the arguments before, such as "why do we the taxpayers have to pay", the fact is majority of sufferers are taxpayers too.
Compulsive Hoarders come from all walks of life, its not determined by gender, colour or creed or how much you earn. It is a misconception that sufferers are low earners, or on state benefits. This is not the case. We have clients that have hoarded in properties worth over a million. Living in well to do areas, all over the country. Most of our clients last year where from picturesque little villages over looking the country side.
We assume we would never be in that position, the fact is neither do the people that become Compulsive Hoarders.
It starts somewhere. A sufferer doesn't wake up one morning thinking, I am going to fill my house with domestic rubbish, because I can.
We don't know what we may go through in life, we don't know what might befall us, depression, anxiety or other underline mental health problems.
The fact is we as a people have duty of care for the people in our communities, it takes a village.
This is the view from a clients window once we had completed the clean. the rainbow says it all.
Thank you for reading our blog.