Working With Hoarders

Hoarding clean upGoals of Recommended Best Practices for Working with People Who Hoard

Take Care of Yourself Emotionally

Working with a person who hoards is not for the faint-hearted. It can be very challenging and frustrating. First responders and service providers must take care of themselves first in order to help the individual. This means paying close attention to what is going on with you, and it means getting support from someone who knows what it is to work with persons who hoard.

Each person has his/her own standards of sanitation for their own living situation. If you are either "neat as a pin" or "chronically disorganized" yourself, you may need to seek some help to be able to maintain a middle ground with the person who hoards. In some cases you will also need to be prepared to encounter a person who hoards who is also an exhibitionist. As a "helper", you may see some initial progress in cleaning up the premises, but eventually you will likely become irritated and disappointed by the slow rate of progress and the backsliding. When this happens, it is time for you to step away temporarily to regroup so that you can work effectively again.

Note to Supervisors: it is critical that you prepare and debrief with your staff who will work with individuals who hoard.

Take Care of Yourself Physically

Besides being unpleasant to be in, hoarding situations can be unsafe. Some first responders and service providers develop infections and suffer long-term symptoms from being in hoarding situations. Some general precautions you should take when you expect to be in a hoarding situation include (many of these are in severe cases only, please take note of concerns you may have, including pre-existing conditions such as breathing disorders):hoarding clean up