VHA Home HealthCare

VHA Home HealthCare

February 17, 2011 13:29 ET

VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) Helps People Dig Out of Clutter and Hoarding With Innovative Resource

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 17, 2011) - After several years in the making, VHA today released The Community Clutter and Hoarding Toolkit—the first resource of its kind to support every level of clutter support in the community—from health care professionals, to housing, community and social workers, to landlords/building managers to family and friends of the person with the hoarding problem.

"Time and again, we were approached by partners and colleagues for advice," says Barbara Cawley, VP of Client Services at VHA. "This toolkit came out of a need we felt wasn't being met. Whether it's a visiting nurse, a superintendent or a family member who discovers an incredibly cluttered home—we all can play a role in supporting someone who hoards to live a less cluttered and safer life." The toolkit, she notes, is unique because it provides practical information and worksheets specifically geared to three different levels of support in the community: health professionals, housing and community workers and "helpers" such as a friend, family member or neighbour.

While hoarding and clutter are "hot topics" in the media—largely due to the recent spate of reality shows on the subject—helping a person who hoards is rarely as simple as a quick-fix cleanup of the home.

"Hoarding is a mental health condition," notes Catherine Chater, a seasoned Occupational Therapist with VHA and co-author of the toolkit. "Resolving the issue means understanding what caused the clutter in the first place. Simply clearing out the home is rarely a good long-term solution and can be distressing for the person." Instead, Chater believes a more gradual approach that uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and other practical strategies is the most effective way to deal with the issue and prevent relapse. The focus is on helping the person who hoards to take responsibility for their actions and take care of themselves.

"We believe this tool gives workers in the community who encounter hoarding on the job some really practical tools to help manage the situation," says Cheryl Perera, Director of New Ventures and Community Programs, who also chairs the Toronto Hoarding Coalition. She notes VHA will be launching workshops this spring to reinforce toolkit contents and help all community sectors come together to deal with the issue.

With an estimated five per cent of the population affected by the condition, hoarding is a bigger problem than first thought. "These are people's fathers, sisters, neighbours and friends. And when the clutter gets so out of hand, it can be a real safety hazard for falls, fire, and infestation," says Perera. "We hope that by sharing VHA's expertise and knowledge, we can really raise awareness and together help those who hoard reclaim their living spaces and lives."

For more information, or to purchase The Community Hoarding and Clutter Toolkit, please visit VHA online.

About VHA Home HealthCare:

Founded in 1925 as the Visiting Homemakers Association, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA)—a not-for-profit, charitable organization—provides 24/7 health care and support services—including rehabilitation, personal support, home support and nursing services—to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds in their own home or wherever extra support is needed. We offer high-quality, multi-lingual care to people throughout Ontario to support a more independent life. VHA proudly meets the rigorous criteria set out by Accreditation Canada.

Contact Information

  • To schedule an interview:
    VHA Home HealthCare
    Pam Stoikopoulos
    Communications Manager
    416-489-2500 ext. 4344
    For information on workshops or
    The Community Clutter & Hoarding Toolkit:
    New Ventures and Community Programs
    Cheryl Perera, Director