Hoarding Behaviours community brochure now available!

Centacare - Hume PIR Support Facilitators achieve system’s change

A System’s Response to Hoarding Behaviours in Rural NSW is a Hume Partners in Recovery {PIR} and  Centacare SW NSW Support Facilitators project which has some positive outcomes. This is a population health response in conjunction with Berrigan and Greater Hume Shires, clinical services, consumers and other agencies which together have developed a Local Government Area {LGA} diversion policy and a community brochure which is now available in print, PDF and is now available online.

The ultimate objective of the PIR initiative is to improve the system response to, and outcomes for, people with a severe and persistent mental illness who have complex needs. Systems change works to increase positive outcomes for consumers by improving systems that influence a population’s health and their ability to control their health.

Australia as a whole is facing a deficit of early intervention and coordination strategies to respond effectively to hoarding and squalor, specifically rural and private properties. The nature of hoarding is extremely complex, exemplifying the necessity to have highly qualified and trained specialists in the area to work on hoarding, partnered with multi-agency support that is inclusive of government, clinical and community coordinated policy change and responses.

…it can be a roller coaster ride for the person concerned. On good days they will get rid of some things, other days not. It’s like climbing a high mountain, yes it can be done with support in place, and as you get there the view gets better.

A 2014 study conducted in Australia estimates that more than 600,000 people experience hoarding behaviours (Lopez-Solar et al, 2014). Hoarding is a new mental illness diagnosis in the DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20031337).

Consumer involvement and contribution in the project led to a better understanding of hoarding through the mind of the individual with lived experience. An increase in education of the project Steering Committee members and knowledge of hoarding as an individual mental health diagnosis in the DSM5 were also contributing factors to success: ‘I now have a folder full of resources and contacts that’s helpful for the future.’

Interest and support from Local Governments to intervene and seek community mental health assessment before enforcement is an enabler and having dedicated Support Facilitator time to manage the project and Hume PIR funding were essential to the success of the project.

The time that it takes to work through the “thickness” and how multi-layered the mental health system is, very labour intensive, great to have the project funding and Support Facilitator time to progress this as the group didn’t. The SFs doing the work and independently facilitated outside of Council, the policy wouldn’t have been accomplished without hearing from the consumers, the rangers, health and environmental officers.

A draft policy was produced by Berrigan Shire ‘Local Government – Hume PIR Hoarding Project Diversion Policy (Hoarding Disorder)’ and was distributed to the project members, MLHD Deputy Director, Albury-Wodonga Health, the SFs and staff within Berrigan and Greater Hume Shires for comment.

If it can be shown there is a link to a health condition then there would be openness to Council not to go to orders, if the person was receiving assistance for the mental illness.

This revised policy will be presented to Berrigan Shire and Greater Hume Shire at their coming Council meetings and the intention is that this can be adapted by and utilised as appropriate within other shires. It has so far been shared with Federation Shire who were keen to have access to it for their use.

We realised early you can’t change some systems, but local government has been able to effect this system’s change with the intention of earlier solutions, to respond empathetically but not clinically.

‘We realised early you can’t change some systems, but local government has been able to effect this system’s change with the intention of earlier solutions, to respond empathetically but not clinically’.

Copies of the brochure are available from Centacare PIR or you can download a copy here.

Cristy Houghton