Supporting a tenant with a hoarding disorder – HOS Helps

HOS Helps Development Worker Tessa Law writes about her latest casework, supporting a hoarding tenant at Almond Housing Association

Jackie* was referred to HOS Helps because she was struggling to cope. On visiting Jackie it was clear she was not dealing with everyday life and had some serious hoarding issues.


Jackie was initially reluctant to engage with HOS Helps as she felt ashamed about her situation and was afraid of being judged. She wanted to make room in her home for living, but the problem had become so huge she felt overwhelmed by the task and did not know where to start.


Through spending time with Jackie, it became clear how much this disorder interfered with her daily life. Activities such as cooking and sleeping were severely impaired. In addition, the excessive clutter made it difficult to move around the property and tradespeople were unable to carry out regular maintenance and safety checks. Moreover, in terms of safety, it also restricted access to the emergency services if needed.


By reaching out to HOS Helps, we were able to support and assist Jackie with the practical task of sorting through the various collections she had accumulated. This was done over a period of time. Through liaison with Jackie’s housing officer, we organized a bulk uplift which was carried out with the help of Almond Enterprise.


For the first time in five years, she will now be able to access her bedroom and sleep in a bed. And the tradespeople will be able to install the new windows that are needed for the property.


In our experience, tenants who are struggling with conditions such as hoarding are often anxious and depressed and lack the motivation to reach out for support. However, this often leads to neglecting other issues that need to be addressed or receiving the help you are entitled to.


HOS Helps identified that Jackie did not have a working cooker so we completed a Scottish Welfare Fund application for this and we await the outcome. We also submitted an application to the Aberlour Child Trust Fund to assist Jackie’s daughter with some clothing and bedding and are delighted to say we secured £400.


In addition, Jackie was struggling with fuel poverty and had debts and council tax arrears that needed to be addressed. HOS Helps made the necessary call to her housing officer who supplied some fuel vouchers during this difficult time. We contacted a debt advisory service and she now has an appointment with the West Lothian Council Advice Shop to discuss her finances and set up a payment plan for her debts.


Hopefully this tenant has taken the first steps to a better life.


*Jackie’s name has been changed for anonymity