Common Problems


1 | Hoarding behaviour definition

  1. Persistent accumulation of, and lack of ability to relinquish, large numbers of objects or living animals,
  2. Resulting in extreme clutter in or around premises
  3. This behaviour comprises the intended use of premises and threatens the health safety of people concerned, animals and neighbours

2 | Characteristics

  1. Hoarding is an impulsive not compulsive behaviour. It is pleasure seeking: Intrinsic, Instrumental, and Sentimental
  2. It aims to avoid/reduce negative emotions
  3. 50% have trauma history
  4. Low threshold for tolerating discomfort/anxiety

3 | Is it Squalor?

  1. Hoarding is sometimes confused with Squalor. Squalor is described as an unsanitary living environment that has arisen from extreme and/or prolonged neglect. It poses substantial health and safety risks to people or animals residing in the affected premises as well as others in the community.
  2. The rule of thumb for distinguishing between the two is, with ‘Squalor’ there is no emotional attachment to belongings and generally people living in squalor are unlikely to experience as much distress if their homes are cleaned out than someone experiencing a hoarding issue.

4 | What Can We Do?

Harm Minimisation
  1. Install smoke alarms and test them
  2. Unblock exits
  3. Widen internal pathways
  4. Check utilities are connected
  5. Remove items from proximity to electrical/heating appliances.
Minimise additional items coming in to the home
  • They may be advised to cease subscribing to magazines and newsletters and to put a “no junk mail” notice on their letter box to cut down on the amount of paper coming into the house.
  • Individuals are also required to develop a daily routine and schedule in activities previously avoided such as cleaning, washing, emptying rubbish, sorting mail etc.
Mental health supports
  • People experiencing hoarding can be encouraged to learn relaxation skills as discarding belongings can trigger anxiety.
  • It is encouraged that they seek support from mental health professionals and...

Things to take into consideration before ‘a clean’

‘The clean’ can be an extremely stressful for someone experiencing hoarding as there is a lot of attachment to their belongings.

Ensure that they have accessed their mental health supports and that if they don’t have a strong support network that they have other interim options at least

E.g. connecting them to helpline, ensuring that services are aware of what’s about to happen, asking the individual what they think they need at this time.

There are a some services that specialise in industrial cleans

Phone 1300 583 583

Phone 1300 22 30 02

Phone: 03 9369 8228

5 | Communication

Top 10 rules

  1. Non-judgemental is key : Ask with curiosity
  2. Act like its normal, after all, it probably is to them
  3. Keep eye contact
  4. Match their language and avoid suggestions
  5. Avoid touching anything without their permission
  6. Highlight their strengths!