A hoarding workshop is coming to the Northern Rivers.
A hoarding workshop is coming to the Northern Rivers. Contributed

Do you need help to cut the clutter?

HOARDING affects the lives of around 400,000 Australians, yet even some people who work to help hoarders are unsure how to manage the complex disorder.

Workshops aimed at upskilling people working in home support roles are being held across the Northern Rivers in June this year.

The Effective Approaches to Hoarding Behaviours' workshop will attempt to shed light on this condition for people working to support those with hoarding issues.

Workshop Facilitator and Consultant, Maire Barron said hoarding was a complex and daunting condition to try and work with.

The workshop has been running in this region for about six years, and around 600 people have participated.

"I really hope that by bringing more understanding on this condition, that ultimately the people living with it get some support and relief around their experience; that it improves their safety, security and well-being,” Ms Barron said.

Heather Coutts works in the mental health sector, is based in Coffs Harbour and went to the meeting in September last year in Grafton.

Ms Coutts said when hoarding arises it usually affects more than the person directly involved and those working with it.

"It really underlined for me that working as a team with other services is one of the key ways to help someone in these situations,” she said.

"It's such a tricky situation so it's best if the team approach starts early and not when the situation becomes critical.”

"I thought the workshop was great, there was there a bit of everything - a model, stats, workshops and practical ideas on ways to work with people on the ground.

"The one day training session was really valuable for everyone, she knows what kind of things worked and what hasn't.

"Anyone who works in the accommodation or social housing should certainly have this training

"The situation might not happen often but it's really challenging when it does.”

Ms Barron said she working with a housing provider when she realised the extent of the issue.

"There were people at risk of eviction because of their hoarding habits and it was my role to try to help them to sustain their tenancies,” she said.

Ms Barron said she was finding the workers get stumped on how to address the problem, and often five or so different agencies will work with the one person or family to get that behaviour changed in the home.

"Mess and clutter is really subjective. What we really want to focus on is safety issues, especially fire safety, but also trip hazards, air quality, cuts and infections.”  

"One of the most difficult elements for people with a hoarding condition is the loss of connection with people - it's often an isolating condition. So while they seem normal outside of their home, often people shut off their homes and don't allow family, friends or neighbours to visit. It can be a very lonely experience.”  

"It is much more complicated than the stereotyped assumption that hoarding is about laziness. There can be layers of issues contributing to hoarding behaviour, from depression and fear, to social phobias and obsessive or compulsive behaviours. Hoarding behaviours can begin in childhood and are often exacerbated by trauma or health problems throughout life.”   

The Hoarding and Squalor Workshop is aimed at upskilling people working in home support roles such as mental health, disability, home care, housing support workers and real estate agents.

It offers a mix of current industry information, strategies and examples for case coordination with multiple service providers, practical strategies for service users, therapeutic tools and real case examples.

Participants will leave with an understanding of how excess possessions affect people with hoarding issues and how to help them make space for what they really want in their lives.  

At Casino Community Centre on June 1 and Ballina Kentwell Community Centre on June 29 from 9.30am -4pm. $150 including morning tea.

To book go to: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/effective-approaches-to-hoarding-behaviours-14051611538

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