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Hoarding and squalor
The Department of Health is aware of issues affecting a broad range of service providers when responding to situations involving hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments. The department acknowledges that these cases are complex and progress can be slow, with many not reaching a resolution. An objective may be to ensure the safety for the person concerned and their dependants and to minimise risk.
Such circumstances are challenging for the individual, their families and neighbours as well as for the services that respond to such cases. By services working together, effective response and understanding will develop over time, which in turn will provide improved outcomes for the people and animals living in these conditions.
People of all ages including children, may hoard or live in squalor and can be found in any type of housing, living situation or environment. Circumstances surrounding cases involving hoarding and squalor are not defined by financial means nor a person’s standing in the community.
Hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments can pose a number of associated problems and concerns in a person's life which may involve laws, policies and living requirements in areas as diverse as:
Effective intervention requires professionals from a broad range of private and public sectors involved in people, animal and building services to:
A specific project in 2012 - 2013 developed two hoarding and squalor publications drawing on a range of sources including the expertise of Victorian service providers who have developed good practice approaches in working with people, their families, carers or neighbours affected by such cases.
The two publications are:
1. Responding to hoarding and squalor - key messages
The hoarding and squalor key messages statement was developed to provide basic key messages to all service providers to consider and act upon when they receive referrals or come across situations involving hoarding or squalor. The publication highlights the following aspects:
The hoarding and squalor key messages statement introduces the availability of the larger hoarding and squalor practical resource (below), as well as providing information on how to access hard and soft copies of the key messages statement and soft copies of the practical resource (refer to the downloads section below).
2. Hoarding and squalor - a practical resource for service providers
The purpose of the practical resource is to build service system capacity to respond to situations involving hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments, and asserts that all programs and services need to respond to such presenting circumstances, not ignore them.
The practical service response is firmly based on principles that support the person with the presenting concern and any dependants (such as children; people who are frail or have a disability or animals) so that they are well cared for and treated with the respect they deserve as living beings.
The aim of such a service response, particularly to complex life situations, is to enable and empower the person to act for themselves and on their own behalf, to exercise their rights and be confident of the services and resources available to assist them.
The practical resource presents a common response framework by:
Many of the Tools (in Section 8) have also been designed in PDF and Word formats as separate from the versions in the document itself. These additional formats enable service providers to download and use the tools for their own purpose.
Responding to hoarding and squalor - Key messages statement for service providers 2013
Hoarding and squalor - a practical resource for service providers 2013 – (available only in soft copy) and can be found in the downloads section.
Discussion paper hoarding and squalor 2012
The Department of Health Discussion paper hoarding and squalor, documents what was known about hoarding and squalor related behaviours and existing clinical and practical service response in Victoria at that time. The Discussion paper supported the 2012 – 2013 project and is only available in soft copy from the downloads section.
For further information and feedback on the above publications contact by
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (03) 9096 7389.
Practical resource - tools
Tool 8. 1 Environmental Cleanliness and Clutter Scale ECSS (141kb, pdf)
Tool 8.1 Environmental Cleanliness and Clutter Scale ECCS (135, kb MS Word)