Homes 'raining' cockroaches, kitchens full of rotting meat
THE first hoarding-affected home Lismore's Maire Barron walked into was "overwhelming because of the huge risk to the kids, the tenancy and the clients' safety".
The former social worker spent years working in the community social housing sector on the Northern Rivers, working closely with sufferers of the complex disorder.
"I remember one house, there was so many cockroaches, they were raining from the ceiling," she said..
"I had to stamp my feet walking through to stop them coming up … infestation is a big part of certain types of hoarding.
"I've seen kitchens filled with rotting meat… it's a sad and lonely disorder and often an isolating disorder and it's really hard for children living like that."
Hoarding disorder effects between two to six per cent of the population, according to the Australian National University.
But Ms Barron said many professionals working closely with this condition are severely under-supported.
These professionals include housing, mental health and homelessness support workers, home care services, social workers, disability support, aged care, tenancy managers, cleaning services, council health and safety officers, fire safety services, child protection, animal rescue and, at times, concerned family and friends.
To combat this, in 2012, Ms Barron began drawing on her experience to develop a course called Effective Approaches to Hoarding Behaviours.
It is run several times a year nationally and internationally.
But the impact of COVID-19 has forced Ms Barron to launch her first series of Hoarding Unpacked online, with the fist webinar kicking off on May 16.
The course is aimed at supporting professionals working closely with sufferers of the complex disorder in their understanding, responses and efforts to addressing this behaviour.
It was originally written as in-house training for North Coast Community Housing when Ms Barron was employed as a Sustaining Tenancies Officer.
She said a hoarding disorder was an "overwhelming and baffling" condition to work with.
"The main aim of the training is to increase the safety of the clients and their living environment and do so with as little trauma as possible," she said.
"The training is needed because only a few courses offering support are run Australia-wide.
"I am trying to get workers to understand the condition to break the barrier down and create understanding and compassion - between the worker and the sufferer - and to move through what needs to be done to create a safe environment."
The hoarding Unpacked webinar includesEffective Approaches to Hoarding Behaviours' five-hour course and the Hoarding Unpacked online course