Home care providers can be an important point of contact for older people with a hoarding disorder, according to Catholic Healthcare support program co-ordinator Amanda Peterson.

Amanda Peterson

Hoarding is a bigger problem than many people realise, Ms Peterson says.

“Because of the nature of the disorder there are a lot of people that aren’t seeking assistance,” she told Community Care Review.

“But there’s a lot more research and awareness around it so there’s a lot more services being offered.”

Ms Peterson is the facilitator of Catholic Healthcare’s’ Buried in Treasures support program which will be offered online to CHSP clients from March 8.

“We look at what is hoarding disorder, how they came to be in that situation and they learn some strategies and tips as to how to address the situation,” she says.

“We’re trying to get the word out that (hoarding) does exist and that they’re not alone in the situation and we can help support them through their journey.”

A leader in hoarding support services

The 15-week program is one of a number of services offered via Catholic Healthcare’s specialist CHSP-funded hoarding and squalor team.

The team operates across six NSW regions, and provides community officers to offer support and attend homes once a week to help with decluttering.

“We’ll go out, do an assessment, have a look at the home and see what we can do to help, and then organise community workers and cleaners to go in,” Ms Peterson says.

She says Catholic Healthcare receives many referrals for people with hoarding disorders.

 “People might refer themselves, it might be family or friends that refer them, it could be the hospital.

“Because we are a home care provider we can work through their whole journey, we can look at the issues and transfer them onto our hoarding and squalor program, we can also then look at continuing support services either with CHSP or home care packages.”

Why do people hoard?

Ms Peteson says there are many different reasons why a person may develop a hoarding disorder.

“It can be learnt behaviour, they may have grown up in an environment like that, it could be past trauma like growing up during the depression, loss grief,” she says.

“Sometimes it’s purely just an illness that has stopped them they bring things in and are unable to let go.”

In the worst cases hoarding can present a fire hazard or even make it impossible to get into a house.

Hoarding tendencies aren’t necessarily something that can be ‘cured’, Ms Peterson says.

It’s something they will always need to work on however rwe can get them to the point if we can get services in to help them it can be something they can learn to live with and no longer require us.

The Buried in Treasure program previously operated as a twice yearly in-person support group but the move to an online format opens it to  CHSP clients across NSW, Ms Peterson says.

How to help a hoarder:

  • Try to understand the reasons for hoarding, whether it’s emotional attachment, a response to life event or illness
  • Avoid judgement but be empathetic and sympathetic
  • Be patent and acknowledge small steps and achievements

To find out more about Buried in Treasures at an information session or to register for the program commencing 8 March is available here or call 0498 006 330.

Comment on the story below. Follow Community Care Review on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and sign up to our newsletter.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.