We’ve talked before about how some people have taken advantage of lockdown to declutter homes and gardens. And we’ve observed that this has caused a tsunami of waste, resulting in a huge increase in instances of fly-tipping. But for others who have been self-isolating, the challenges to their mental health may have manifested themselves quite differently. Compulsive hoarding can be a result of several mental health conditions, and it can indeed become a serious problem. Housing providers have to deal with the aftermath when a hoarder vacates a property. In this blog, we’ll be looking in more detail at the problem, and how we’re on hand to help with our hoarder clearance service.
When hoarding becomes a serious health risk
Hoarding is the compulsive need to find and keep objects, animals or rubbish regardless of their value. Items commonly hoarded include newspapers, photographs, boxes, clothes, food, furniture, paper and plastic bags, appliances or electronics. Of course, collecting a few newspapers may not be a sign of any underlying mental health conditions. More seriously, however, compulsive hoarding can be a symptom of several types of mental illness, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. There are five levels of hoarding, classified according to its severity. The residence of a Level One hoarder will likely present as clean; there may be some light clutter, but no odours and all staircases and exits are accessible. In the most serious of these, Level Five, this can extend to profound damage to a property. This may include no electricity or running water, fire hazards, and visible rodents and other non-pet animals. Other signs include clutter filling bathrooms and kitchen, to the extent that staircases and exits are blocked. There may be an excessive number of pets, with noticeable human and animal faeces, and rotting food on surfaces and inside a non-working refrigerator. This can clearly present a housing provider with a challenge to renting their property out to a new tenant – as well as a severe cleaning challenge.
Helping housing providers with hoarder clearance
When dealing with any residence where such extreme hoarding has taken place, we develop a clearance and deep cleaning strategy. This will start with clearing visible clutter such as newspapers, photographs and furniture, and determining the best approach to disposing of items. We’ll move on to dealing with biohazardous waste, which may include rotting food and animal or human faeces. If we detect evidence of rodents and/or insects, we’ll undertake our standard vermin management protocols. And of course, we’ll undertake a thorough deep cleaning and disinfection of the premises to bring it back to safe use in as short a time as possible. For hoarder clearance, as for any of our deep cleaning services, we’re always acutely aware of the health of our staff and the general public. That’s why we ensure that our staff are medically fit and properly protected with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). In terms of safeguarding the general public, we’ll set up appropriate cordons and advise neighbouring properties of what we’re doing on site. And we always make sure to use suitable products and methods, including correct dilution of potentially harmful chemicals. This avoids any residues being left in the property which could cause long-term health issues.
Awareness of hygiene during the Covid-19 pandemic
Right now, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re all more aware of certain aspects of hygiene. This is especially true when it comes to hand hygiene and common touch points in public settings. But some people with mental health issues, especially those who are isolated at home, may not be able to judge the standards of their own hygiene and that of their residence. Helping housing providers dealing with properties affected by compulsive hoarding is just one of the services we provide for the sector. We offer cleaning services for any void properties, not just those in need of hoarder clearance. We can deal with smoke and fire damage or undertake graffiti removal if needed. And in the event that housing providers need deep cleaning and decontamination after a confirmed Covid-19 case, we’re on hand with our first response service.
Contact one of the team today to find out more about how we work with housing providers to deal with hoarder clearance in void properties, among our other services.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the CEO of React Group plc., a business dedicated to specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.