A new group to tackle the increasing problem of hoarding has been set up in Tayside.
In what is believed to be the first of its type in Scotland, a new “hoarding protocol” has been established by Perth and Kinross Council.
The new working group consists of team leaders from a host of council departments, including housing, social work and community mental health along with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
Bill Atkinson, acting executive director of housing and community safety for Perth and Kinross Councilsaid: “Compulsive hoarding is challenging to treat because many people who hoard do not consider it to be an issue and often have little awareness of their disorder and how it impacts on their life and on others.
“It is however important to encourage tenants to seek help, as their obsession can cause loneliness and mental health problems and will often also pose a health and safety risk.
“All front line staff and contractors receive guidance to help them spot the signs of hoarding which includes looking out for behavioural signs like missed appointments and reluctance to allow access into property.”
Perth and Kinross Hoarding Protocol suggests the problem is now being recognised as a “distinct mental health difficulty.”
“Hoarding can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to function independently and can carry a high level of risk for themselves and others,” it says.
“Rent and bills can be left unpaid as mail remains unopened and the home becomes increasingly unmanageable.”
This report states that hoarding is the “excessive collection and retention of materials” that affects “day to day living.”
“Hoarding is a specific type of behaviour characterised by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items such as newspapers, clothes and notes, severe cluttering of the person’s home and is also shown by significant distress or impairment of social life,” the report says.
“Hoarding is now being recognised as a distinct mental health difficulty of its own and it can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to function independently and can carry a high level of risk.
“It can cause high levels of distress for those sharing a home and can cause difficulties for communities working with people who hoard. “
The report goes on to state that hoarders are characterised by ‘excessive attachment to possessions,’ tend to be socially isolated and may neglect their own self-care.
“The main difference between a person with hoarding difficulties and a collector is that a hoarder has strong emotional attachments to their objects – well in excess of their real value,” it states.
The subject was highlighted by TV presenter Jasmine Harman, of A Place in the Sun, who broadcast a programme about her mother suffering from a hoarding disorder.
She kept spent batteries, old speakers and broken bits of dolls and baskets.