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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

How can organisations help people with hoarding tendencies?


Samantha Richardson of Orbit Living explains more about her organisation’s compulsive hoarding project with Coventry University.

Hoarding image The compulsive hoarding project began as an innovative two-year research and development project between the Orbit Coventry care and repair team, a home improvement agency, Coventry University and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership. The initial aims of the project were to explore the most effective ways of addressing compulsive hoarding at a local level, as well as addressing the environmental impact of hoarding, promoting healthy living and exploring the social isolation many people with hoarding tendencies experience.

Challenges and solutions

One of the biggest challenges we’ve come across is the resourcing implications for other organisations. In order to achieve successful outcomes with people with hoarding tendencies, staff need the time to build rapport with the client and begin to work together in a therapeutic relationship. Many housing officers simply do not have the time to dedicate to one individual. In order to address this challenge we have developed a number of solutions.

Internally, Orbit has funded two specialist case workers to work with residents and members of our communities, who feel overwhelmed by the clutter in their homes. Externally, we have worked with organisations to develop and deliver training to support staff and, in some areas, volunteers who are keen to work with this client group. We’ve also developed awareness training courses for those professionals who may work with the client group, but not in a supportive or therapeutic relationship, such as housing officers or contractors.

Positive outcomes 

The initial results for clients have been positive. There’s a severe lack of specialist services for people with hoarding tendencies, and for many clients this has been the first time that someone has taken the time to listen to them. There’s a focus on what they need and want to achieve, and our team works with them in their homes not only to reduce clutter but to improve their overall quality of life. Over the next year we will be building on our evidence base for this model of practice through measuring the economic outcomes for housing associations and wellbeing outcomes for customers.

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