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In aid of Hoarding Awareness Week, Just Clear has put together a guide to help those with a hoarding disorder, or for people looking to help someone who may have this disorder.

We’ve assisted many families, friends and charities who have needed our help when it comes to hoarding clearance, which has made us familiar with clearing and sorting homes of those with hoarding disorder.

Hoarding awareness week helps highlight the issues, stigma and care surrounding hoarding disorder, first initiated by Chief Fire Officers Association in collaboration with Heather Matuozzo of Clouds End CIC and Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red, we’re proud to be supporting the cause.

What is Hoarding Disorder?

Hoarding is a complex and challenging disorder to diagnose, treat and live with. HelpforHoarders estimates that about 2-5% of the population, approximately 1.5 million people in the UK, suffer from hoarding, meaning anyone in your town, street or neighbourhood could be suffering from this disorder and may need your help.

Wrongly compared to avid collectors, someone with hoarding disorder won’t just collect as a hobby, they will find it difficult and distressing to throw away their possessions and continue to add, even if it there’s no space to store them. This results in the mass accumulation of belongings from years of refusing to part with any of their items, regardless of emotional or financial value.

The psychological effects of hoarding disorder can be damaging and draining to both the victim and those around them. Often an effect of another mental illness or on its own, hoarding is an extreme condition that is usually triggered after a traumatic or stressful life event.

How to Support a Loved One with Hoarding Clearance

Hoarding disorder can be difficult to understand, therefore it’s key to remain sensitive and patient to the affected person and their families. The disorder affects each person differently, with a long list of hoarding disorder symptoms and different types of hoarding to keep an eye out for.

  • Don’t Rush

Don’t rush in and expect a whole hoard to be reduced within days. This can take time and it is important you set aside an ample number of days to deal with a hoarding space.

For the duration of the clear out, help the hoarding individual organise their belongings, separating the important from the waste. Recognising these small victories helps to encourage positive steps on the road to recovery.

  • Be careful not to enable hoarding behaviour

Being supportive doesn’t mean you should enable the behaviour by unwittily providing temptation. For example, it’s best to avoid anything that may trigger any compulsive behaviour from car boot sales to charity shops containing items they could potentially add to their hoard.

  • Encourage them to reach out for extra support

Most importantly, make sure you help them find therapy and provide support where you can. This is a healing process, so it’s vital to ensure the correct support is given to reduce the risk of relapse and any further stress.

If you are worried that you, or someone you know may be suffering from the disorder, the NHS has more information on Hoarding Disorder here where you can seek help and advice.

How to Clear a Hoarder’s Home

It is key to tackle a hoarding house clearance with professionalism, respect, and dignity. Below we’ve listed important steps you should remember when clearing and dealing with the home of someone with hoarding disorder:

  1. Have a plan of action.

Make sure you have a solid plan of action. It is important to understand what you want to achieve whether it’s a personal task, helping a friend or something that has been left to you, it’s key to know what you want removed, thrown away, sold, or stored.

This way you can start what seems like a mammoth task on the right foot.

  1. Remove any valuable or items of importance.

Before your professional clearers come in, make sure the most important and valuable items have been removed to prevent anything accidently being thrown away. This allows for a smooth and stress-free process.

  1. Hire a Professional

Large hoards can be dangerous to tackle, and you can never be sure what you may be faced with once you start. With risks of potentially harmful rubbish, including biohazardous waste hiding amongst the other rubbish, you need to be prepared.

Industry professionals have the required equipment, protective clothing, and experience required to remove all waste efficiently and safely from the property. This ensures that the clear-out is taken care of as hassle-free as possible without any personal risk to you.

Final Words on Dealing with Hoarding

If left to manifest, hoarding can lead to large, and, in some instances, life-threatening living conditions. If this is the case, then it’s best to seek the help of professional hoarding clearance services to reduce the risk to yourself and the person with the disorder.

For more information, take a look at our article ‘You can also share your support by sharing your efforts and donations on social media with the hashtag #hoardinghelp.

At Just Clear, we’re the chosen house clearance company by Help for Hoarders to assist with hoarding clearance and this is something we’re very proud of. We have ample experience in sensitively handling delicate circumstances that require professional assistance, and we’re here to help.

We operate nationally too, so regardless of whether you’re looking for support in Milton Keynes, Birmingham, London, Hereford, Reading, Epsom, Southampton, or elsewhere you know we can help you.