Working with Hoarding Disorder in the Community

Given the complexity of hoarding disorder, there are many considerations that should be taken into account when planning to address the issue. Addressing hoarding disorder can require intensive, lengthy, costly, and complex responses.  Given that a large number of community, agency, family, and individual resources may be involved, it is critically important that those who encounter hoarding disorder respond thoughtfully and strategically.  A coordinated plan of help that maximizes resources across community agencies and resources is likely to get the best possible result for the person with hoarding disorder and those affected by it.

Help From Community Agencies

Every community has agencies staffed by professionals from various disciplines that are likely to respond to cases of hoarding disorder.  These disciplines may include, but are not limited to:

  • Housing
  • Public health (including environmental health)
  • Mental health
  • Protective services (including child, adult and elder)
  • Elder/aging services
  • Legal (including civil and criminal justice and law enforcement)
  • Fire safety
  • Medicine
  • Animal control

Although members of each of these professions may become involved for somewhat different reasons, the underlying intention is the same – to protect the health and safety of the individuals living with and affected by hoarding disorder.

Legal & Ethical Considerations

Hoarding disorder can create a number of issues, often extending beyond the person with hoarding disorder into their community.  Because of this, community laws, policies, and requirements may need to be addressed and upheld.  These include the laws, policies, and/or requirements of sanitation, safety, mental health, physical health, animal protection, etc.  Helpful intervention requires professionals from various community departments and agencies to work together to meet legal and ethical regulations, while also ensuring the current and future health and safety of those with hoarding disorder and affected others.

In addition to public and government involvement, private services such as visiting nurses, occupational therapists, professional organizers and professional cleaning companies may need to help.  Coordinated care across agencies can be very helpful in getting into the homes of, and providing stepped care for, those with hoarding disorder.