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Understanding Hoarding

Hoarding is the persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.

Commonly hoarded items can include newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, photographs, household supplies, food and clothing.

Such behaviour can often have harmful effects – emotional, physical, social, financial and even legal – for a hoarder, their family, friends and those who may care for them in a professional capacity.

Why does someone hoard?

There are many reasons why a person hoards – they may believe an item will be useful or valuable in the future; they feel the item has sentimental value, or that if they throw it away they won’t be able to remember the person who gave it to them or the time they acquired it.

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Wolverhampton Safeguarding Adults Board has endorsed this Multi-Agency Hoarding Framework - Guidance for Practitioners. Just click on the image to download the document.

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Keith's Story - helping us to understand hoarding

Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board has produced a film about hoarding – Keith’s story.

This film raises awareness of hoarding and guides professionals on what kinds of interventions seem to work the best so that the people affected (both the person who hoards and other people whose lives this impacts upon) get the support that they need.

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The film tells Keith’s story, in his own words, describing how hoarding affected his life and with the right support, his journey to recovery. Professionals (including fire officers, social workers and mental health staff) talk about the challenges hoarding can present and approaches that can help support recovery.

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What you can do if you suspect someone is hoarding

If you are concerned about your own situation or think someone you know has a problem with hoarding, arrange to see a GP in the first instance. This may not be easy, as someone who hoards might not think they need help.

In practice, when an adult with care and support needs is at risk of neglect from their hoarding or is at risk from a household member who hoards, then a safeguarding enquiry should be considered.  As a guide, an adult with care and support needs living in circumstances resembling clutter rating images 7-9, or within the high risk category in the risk table (refer to guidance above) should always be referred to Safeguarding at the earliest opportunity. 

Consent from the adult should be gained wherever this is possible and where the adult has mental capacity to understand the referral being made. However, a refusal of consent should not prevent a referral being made in these circumstances, and this should be explained to the individual where appropriate. If in doubt, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01902 551199. 

Where children live in the property, and the hygiene conditions within the home present a serious and immediate environmental/health risk to children or the physical accommodation places the child in danger, a Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF) must be submitted to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). If you have concerns and are not sure if the children meet the threshold, please contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01902 555392 for advice.


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