Self-neglect is an extreme lack of self-care. It's sometimes associated with hoarding and may be a result of other issues such as bereavement, loss or addiction. Self-neglect can be caused by mental or physical illness that has an effect on the person’s physical abilities, energy levels, attention, organisational skills or motivation.
Recognising signs of self-neglect
Sign of self-neglect can include:
- living in very unclean or unsanitary conditions
- looking dishevelled or wearing inappropriate clothes for the weather
- the presence of vermin, flies or unpleasant smells in or around the home
- property in a poor state of repair or with waste accumulating outside
- neglecting household maintenance, and creating hazards within the home or to a neighbouring property
- poor diet and nutrition
- declining or refusing prescribed medication or other community healthcare support
- refusing to allow access to health or social care professionals in relation to personal hygiene and care
- refusing to allow access to other organisations with an interest in the property
- repeated episodes of anti-social behaviour – either as a victim or source of risk
- being unwilling to attend external appointments with professionals in social care, health or other organisations (such as housing support)
- lack of personal hygiene resulting in poor healing or sores, long toenails, unkempt hair, uncared for facial hair, body odour, unclean clothing
- isolation either of an individual or of a household or family unit
- repeated referrals to Environmental Health
Hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. The items can be of little or no monetary value.
Recognising signs of hoarding
Signs of hoarding can include:
- keeping or collecting items that may have little or no monetary value, such as junk mail and carrier bags, or items they intend to reuse or repair
- finding it hard to categorise or organise items
- having difficulties making decisions
- struggling to manage everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and paying bills
- becoming extremely attached to items, refusing to let anyone touch or borrow them
- having poor relationships with family or friends
- a lack of personal or professional visitors to the home
- refusal to open the door fully to callers or to accept deliveries
- visible clutter in the home
- window blinds or curtains continually drawn
- a build-up of waste or other items in the garden or failing to take their bins out for collection
- very regular deliveries to the home
A diagnosis of hoarding disorder can only be made by a specialist medical practitioner.
Our housing team can support anyone displaying hoarding behaviours, regardless of the property tenure or location, where the behaviour is impacting negatively on the person’s health and wellbeing, living conditions or affecting a neighbouring home.
For those affected by hoarding, the D’Clutter Club meets on the last Tuesday of each month, 6pm to 8pm, at Maltas Court community centre, S70 4QG. Come along if you're struggling with too much stuff, if you're finding it hard to cope or if it's affecting your life. The group is free to attend and open to friends, family and supporters. There's no need to book. Call 07786 525988 for more details.
- Hoarding UK - support for hoarders and local support groups
- Cloud’s End CIC - resources to help hoarders
- Help for Hoarders - support and advice for hoarders and their families.
- NHS hoarding support
- OCD UK - information about obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Association of Professional De-Clutterers and Organisers (UK) - support for members of the professional organising and de-cluttering industry
Report self-neglect or hoarding
If you think you know someone who could be experiencing or living with self-neglect or hoarding, or has a build-up of rubbish or household waste at their property you can contact us by:
- emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- calling (01226) 773555
You can report an issue anonymously, or provide us with details so we can put the right support in place.
Berneslai Homes tenants
Berneslai Homes can provide support to people living in council housing and offer a range of specialist, tailored ways to help residents successfully maintain their tenancies and enjoy where they live.