Hoarding protocol launched to help council tenants in Perth and Kinross

hoardingPerth & Kinross Council has officially launched a protocol to support tenants with hoarding issues.

The protocol, the first of its kind in Scotland, has been developed by a partnership of the council, NHS Tayside and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and with the advice of Scotland’s first hoarding consultant Linda Fay from Life Pod.

The document recognises that hoarding is a mental health issue and will ensure that tenants with hoarding difficulties are supported in a co-ordinated way to tackle the issue. At the heart of the approach is a multi-agency response, with housing teams working closely with social care, health and voluntary sector partners to ensure that tenants are supported with a range of actions that will help them regain control of their homes and their lives.

Hoarding has serious health risks for the person involved and is a major fire risk. Properties can also suffer many thousands of pounds worth of damage as a result of hoarding.

Staff from all the partner agencies gathered at an event at Perth’s Salutation Hotel yesterday to hear about the new protocol, and how it will work in practice. They were told about a recent incident of hoarding, and how co-ordinated support helped the council tenant involved.

On a routine visit by a housing officer the tenant was found living without income in a house without heat or adequate food, and had begun hoarding rubbish and household items. Quick intervention from the council’s housing, social care and welfare rights teams was put in place, alongside support from health professionals. This ongoing help resulted in the person completely turning their lives around. They now live happily and healthily in a clean, warm and clutter-free home.

Head of housing at Perth & Kinross Council, Lorna Cameron, said: “Compulsive hoarding can often be a complex issue for frontline housing staff who need to understand the causes and triggers to be able to provide appropriate support. Housing organisations across the country have identified hoarding as an issue that is presenting increasing challenges to staff, both in terms of supporting tenants to sustain their home and in protecting the property. That’s why it’s been very important to agree our multi-agency protocol, which is the first in Scotland. It will make it easier for staff to understand what to do if they are met with a hoarding issue and will also make sure vital support is available straight away for tenants.”

Lindsey Griffin, clinical manager, P&K Community Mental Health, added: “Compulsive hoarding is now recognised as a standalone mental health issue and can be challenging to treat. Many people who hoard do not consider it to be an issue. It is important to have a co-ordinated multi agency approach with people as their hoarding behaviour can cause deterioration in their mental health resulting in severe social isolation and a wide range of health and social care problems.”

Sarah Robertson, watch manager at Scottish Fire and Rescue, said: “Hoarding is a fire hazard which restricts means of escape within a home. In the event of a fire a compromised escape route can lead to serious injury or even death. That’s why we have been delighted to support the development of this new protocol for Perth and Kinross. When an incident of hoarding is identified we will work with our partners and the person affected to support them to live long-term in a safe home free of major fire risks.”

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