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23 April 2018, 07:36
A event is to be staged for the first time in the UK to try and tackle a disorder which sees people store vast amounts of items and clutter up their homes.
Compulsive hoarding - where acquiring and saving objects takes over a person's life - is a growing issue in Scotland, with an estimated 200,000 people affected by severe clutter.
As well as affecting a person's health and wellbeing, the issue can become a public health problem and 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.
Founder of Life-Pod CIC, a social enterprise which helps affected people, 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. Scotland is already piloting new, multi-agency approaches, and this autumn we will host the UK's very first hoarding conference - to explore the issue and showcase best practice."
It is estimated the cost of clearing a house can be as high as £50,000, whilst the cost of removing and rehousing a child from a cluttered home can total £250,000.
Now Scotland is tackling the issue head-on, with an international conference on hoarding in October and a number of organisations, including the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Perth and Kinross Council, adopting new approaches to helping hoarders.
According to Ms Fay, who is the UK's only certified Hoarding Specialist, hoarding behaviours usually start in childhood and can be exacerbated by co-existing health problems and traumatic life events.
If not treated properly, hoarding gets worse with age and often leads to loneliness and isolation.
The international event - Hoarding, Health and Housing - is being organised by Life-Pod and will take place at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, on October 4.