Monday, August 20, 2007

Conference Evaluations "Knee Deep in Clutter" Conference held on June 19th at Beverly COA

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to return the conference evaluations. We obtained some very good information.

The demographics of our attendees were as follows: There were social workers, protective services workers, case managers, public health personnel, nurses, elder services, housing, fire and ambulance personnel. Most worked for local municipalities or non-profits, with several people from state agencies, hospitals, and private businesses. People had worked an average of 12 years in their field. The vast majority attended because they had a personal interest in the topic and/or wanted to address the issue in their town.

Most respondents felt that they had learned something useful about hoarding, and that the presentations were relevant to their work. People were particularly interested in the research into the clinical and treatment aspects of the condition.

The most useful parts of the evaluations were the suggestions on the need for more information and work on the problem. These suggestions included: a list of specific resources/referrals for Essex County, more networking workshops, more information on treatment approaches/cognitive behavioral therapy, information on motivational interviewing, discussion on how to overcome resistance to treatment, and many other thought-provoking ideas. It is the hope of the City of Beverly Hoarding Task Force that we can use this blog as one forum to address some of these issues.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Our morning presenter: Dr. Randy O. Frost "Knee Deep in Clutter" Conference held on June 19th at Beverly COA

Dr. Randy O. Frost is the Howard Edward and Elsa Siipola Israel Professor of Psychology at Smith College. He is an internationally known expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive hoarding, as well as the pathology of perfectionism. He has published over 100 scientific articles and book chapters on these topics. His work has been funded by NIMH and the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation. He has co-authored several books on hoarding including Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring: Therapist Guide and an accompanying workbook as well as Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding (both published by Oxford University Press in 2007). His research has been featured on a variety of television and radio news shows including 20/20 Downtown, Good Morning America, Dateline, National Public Radio (general news as well as the award winning program The Infinite Mind), BBC News, and Canadian Broadcasting Company's The Nature of Things.

Dr. Frost's presentation was entitled "Buried in Treasures: Compulsive Hoarding and its Treatment". He gave an excellent overview of his many years of research on this topic.

To summarize, his definition of compulsive hoarding is: a) the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions b) living spaces that are sufficiently cluttered as to preclude their intended use c) significant distress or impairment caused by the clutter.

Dr. Frost then went on to describe the manifestations of hoarding: compulsive acquiring, compulsive saving and disorganization. Further information was given on the epidemiology of the disorder, its relation to other types of mental illness, demographics of sufferers, and the course of the illness.

He then presented his conceptual model of compulsive hoarding. The people he has studied have many similar core beliefs and vulnerabilities, information processing defecits, problems with emotional attachments, beliefs about possessions, and emotional reactions.

Dr. Frost's treatment approach entails a cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is detailed in his therapy manual and self-help book.

For more information on Dr. Frost's work, please refer to the links on the left side of this page.

Panel discussion "Knee Deep in Clutter" Conference held on June 19th at Beverly COA

The morning portion of our conference included a panel discussion including: Christiana Bratiotis, MSW, Boston University; Jonathan Fielding, Protective Services Regional Manager, EOEA; and Paul Halfmann, Assistant Director Community Sanitation Program, MA Department of Public Health.

Ms. Bratiotis focused on the role that collaboration plays when more than one agency is involved in a hoarding case. Hoarding cases are time consuming and expensive. Collaboration is a good way to share information and resources, make a coordinated plan to work with a hoarder, and provide support to the members of each agency involved. Aspects of a plan might include deciding which agency will respond in which situation, and who is in charge of each case. Community task forces are a good way to coordinate care and provide training and community education. Some task forces designate one agency to do case triage.

Mr. Fielding described the role that the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) plays in neglect, abuse and self-neglect cases. For the most part, local agencies are in charge of individual cases, and EOEA oversees those agencies. He helped to define abuse and neglect cases as those where people are not having their daily basic needs met. However, if someone is deemed competent, they are not required to accept services, and often the service agency must walk away.

Mr. Halfmann described the state Department of Public Health's role in hoarding cases. Their role is primarily to advise the local health department, not to interact directly on individual cases. The local health department enforces Chapter II of the State Sanitary code in these situations. One important point that Mr. Halfmann made is that health department personnel may not enter a person's home without the occupant's permission.