Hoarding 2: Community Impact

Paper 7: The Western Aged Care Assessment Service (WACAS) working model for hoarding

Sook Meng Lee, Aged Care Assessment Service, VIC

The management of clients with hoarding and squalor is complex, costly and requires the involvement of several community stakeholders. Yet there is a lack of coordinated response from aged care agencies. Aged care assessment services is often the first port of call for elderly clients living at risk in a cluttered environment in the community and the need to develop sustainable relationships with services to meet the demand of clients is increasing.

Western Aged Care Assessment Service (WACAS) has established working relationships with The St Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army Community Aged Care Package providers. While a complete clean up of the property may not be productive, there are occasions when a degree of decluttering is essential to create adequate entry and egress, reduce fire risks and reduce occupational health and safety concerns for community care providers who provide care for the clients.

WACAS obtained funding for initial de-cluttering from The St Vincent de Paul Society, whose policy is to help individuals in the community that fulfils their criteria as being in need. The client is subsequently referred to the Salvation Army CACP for case management, ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the client's health care needs and domestic environment. The success of this model is dependant on client consent and where the client is deemed safe to remain at home with increased community supports.

WACAS advocates for leadership from the Department of Health in supporting clients with hoarding behaviours in the community. WACAS is a community leader in the recognition of the needs of clients living in hoarding environments along with campaigning for increased support for staff in managing these clients. WACAS have qualitative and quantitative data to reflect the importance of a holistic approach to hoarding and senile squalor in relation to staff and clients alike.