Conference in Edinburgh to focus on hoarding disorder

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A major conference on hoarding disorder is to be held in Edinburgh later this year.

The event will explore treatments and interventions for the condition, which involves people storing vast amounts of items and cluttering up their homes.

An estimated 200,000 people in Scotland are affected by severe clutter.

Experts say the disorder can affect a person's health and wellbeing, and pose a public health problem as well as a serious fire risk.

The conference, to be held in October, comes in the same year that hoarding disorder will become a newly-classified mental health condition.

The event is being organised by social enterprise Life-Pod, which helps affected people.

What is hoarding disorder?

Hoarding disorder is defined as the urge to acquire unusually large amounts of possessions and an inability to get rid of those possessions - even when they have no practical usefulness or monetary value.

According to the NHS, someone with a hoarding disorder might:

  • Keep or collect items that may have little or no monetary value, such as junk mail and carrier bags, or items they intend to reuse or repair
  • Find it hard to categorise or organise items
  • Have difficulties making decisions
  • Struggle to manage everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and paying bills
  • Become extremely attached to items, refusing to let anyone touch or borrow them
  • Have poor relationships with family or friends

Life-Pod founder Linda Fay said: "Until recently, health and social care teams were most likely to enforce 'clear-outs' of people's homes.

"This is quite possibly the worst thing to do - as well as being extremely distressing for the sufferer, the recidivism (re-occurrence) rate following an enforced clear-out is 97% - making it an ineffectual exercise.

"It is critical that those suffering with hoarding disorder are helped by trained professionals who understand the complexities of the condition."

Several organisations in Scotland have been piloting new approaches to helping hoarders, including the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Perth and Kinross Council.

The international event - Hoarding, Health and Housing - will take place at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, on 4 October.

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