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September 2013

Bathroom full of things

Lounge room full of things jpeg
The result of hoarding behaviour.

Department addresses hoarding and squalor

The Department of Health is supporting service providers responding to hoarding and squalor by publishing Responding to hoarding and squalor – key messages and Hoarding and squalor – a practical resource for service providers.

A broad range of sectors in Victoria, often in isolation from each other, provide services to people in hoarding and squalor situations.

In February, 2012 the Department endorsed a proposal that mental health, ageing and aged care and health protection branches work together with key stakeholders to develop a practical response framework to apply to hoarding and squalor situations.

This framework would build service system capacity and provide consistency between sectors to respond to such circumstances.

The work was guided by a representative stakeholder group drawn from the departments of Human Services, Environment and Primary Industries, fire services, Victoria Police and variety of practitioners from local municipal councils and clinical services such as psychology, psychiatry and aged care assessment – as well the from the Department of Health.

It was co-chaired by Ageing and Aged Care Director Jane Herington and Mental Health, Drugs and Regions Executive Director Paul Smith.

‘Effective intervention requires professionals from a very broad range of private and public sectors to work together, meeting legal and ethical requirements, while also ensuring that the current and future health and safety of the person, their family and animals are being addressed,’ Ms Herington said.

‘Working with a person who lives in squalor or with hoarding behaviour can require a variety of different approaches.

‘One-off clean-ups are not effective and cause great distress to the person with the hoarding behaviour, particularly if they are not involved or considered,’ Ms Herington said.

People who hoard or live in squalor work in a broad range of careers or job roles – or they could experience or be at risk of homelessness.

People who hoard or live in squalor are of all ages, all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and can be of any gender or sexual orientation.

They are not only those who are of an older age, although hoarding and squalor conditions might be more evident at that stage of their life due to the impact of time and life circumstances.

Hoarding prevalence rates have been estimated at two to five per cent in adults.

•             For more information email aged.care@dhhs.vic.gov.au, telephone 9096 7389 or visit http://www.health.vic.gov.au/agedcare/publications/hoarding.htm.