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Sunday 27 November 2022

Reflections on ADHD Awareness Month 2022

What a lot has happened in the wonderful world of Neurodiversity since October 2022's ADHD Awareness Month campaign - and I don't mean the massive amounts of publicity that's been generated about Matt Hancock - the Dyslexic MP - being on "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! (IACGMOOH)"! 

  • Fellow Neurodivergent IACGMOOH contestant Oliva Attwood (the former "Love Island" competitor, model and tv presenter) who has ADHD had to withdraw on medical grounds after only two days of the competition. 
  • What's the likelihood that most of the other IACGMOOH contestants currently humiliating themselves in the Australian jungle are probably Neurodivergent too?  Boy George - surely? !!!!!
    • Not forgetting that in 2019 co-presenter of the show Ant McPartlin announced he'd been diagnosed with ADHD.
Anyway, I digress! 

This year's ADHD Awareness month seems to have been pretty successful judging by the number of:
  • ADHD events that took place during the month, online and in person
    • The charity ADHD UK, ADHD New Zealand and ADHD South Africa jointly organised a 24 hour Global ADHD Conference that took place on 6th and 7th October.  Feedback received from Fastminds members was very positive about the event, which included interviews with:
      • Dr Phil Anderton and Lisa Mangel of ADHD-360 (an ADHD assessment and treatment clinic that several Fastminds members have received their diagnosis through) and other medical specialists in the field of ADHD;
      • celebrities who were late diagnosed with ADHD such as:
        • Journalist, author and presenter Adrian Chiles
        • World famous chef Heston Blumenthal.  It's well worth listening to Heston's interview, as he describes his diagnosis as "magical, because it started to make sense of who I am, as opposed to who I'm not.  I then felt less judged by others and the ability to be able", and also how frustrating he finds it if someone else's idea of tidying is moving objects to another place - which is more like them hiding things!  
          • WARNING:  The interview contains strong language.
      • Very kindly ADHD UK has made the entire conference available to view for FREE on their YouTube Channel - click HERE to view the talks.
  • New members joining Fastminds (the adult ADHD peer support that I'm a Trustee of) in the past few weeks
    • 24 since the beginning of October 2022 - an all-time record!
  • Celebrities revealing they'd recently received a diagnosis of ADHD: 
    • As this YouTube video shows, Nadia Sawalha (58) from ITV's "Loose Women" was reduced to tears when the diagnosis was confirmed.  Thank goodness Rebecca Whelan - the Nurse Practitioner from ADHD-360 who was carrying out the assessment - highlighted some of the positives traits of the condition that Nadia has, such as creativity and being able to work under pressure.
      • Irritatingly the panelists kept using the term "suffering from ADHD". 
      • Nadia's co-panelist Denise Welch (64) - who has a history of alcohol dependency and mental illness - looked incredibly uncomfortable during the interview, and admitted that she "ticked all the boxes" for ADHD - including addictions.  
      • In the same "Loose Women" show, wildlife photographer, tv presenter, ornithologist and "Strictly Come Dancing" contestant Hamza Yassin (32) explained that Dyslexia helps him with his dancing because he's visual - he struggles with the rhythm of the music, so learns the moves he has to make by watching his dance partner (Jowita Pryztal) demonstrate his part first, and then he copies it.  
        • Click HERE to watch the YouTube video of Hamza's interview.
    • Another former "Love Island reality star Dr Alex George announced his ADHD diagnosis to his 1.9 million Instagram followers.  Dr Alex (31) - an A&E doctor, TV presenter and youth mental health ambassador for the Government - went on to say he “hates” the name and the word “disorder”, and revealed he's found it difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis as an adult.
      • Given that Dr Alex often uses his social media platforms to start conversations around mental and physical health issues, it will be interesting to see what he ends up saying about ADHD..
Bless you Nadia Sawalha for creating a series of incredibly honest and passionate YouTube videos about what you've learned about yourself and ADHD - how you're "excited beyond belief" about your late diagnosis; how it's turned your life upside down and how you've learned that you've spent years masking your symptoms

Bless you also for admitting publicly that:
  • your home is chaotic
  • you now take ADHD medication which has made a  positive difference to you
And finally, a big THANK YOU for demonstrating classic Neurodivergency to your 134K YouTube followers in one simple but  highly effective way - by leaving the vacuum cleaner wand/tube (and dog!) in view lying on the floor behind you whilst you were recording the first video!  

You and your husband (also late diagnosed with ADHD) are welcome to drop into my house and one of our Fastminds support group meetings any time - you'll fit in beautifully!

#ADHD #ADHDAwarenessMonth #diagnosis #Neurodiversity #celebrities #IACGMOOH #LooseWomen #NadiaSawalha #DeniseWelch #HamzaYassin #DrAlexGeorge #StrictlyComeDancing #MattHancock

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Letter to: The Prime Minister - The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP - THANK YOU for for backtracking on fines for missing medical appointments

 Dear Prime Minister

Firstly, congratulations on being "elected" as the UK's newest Prime Minister.  It's not a job for the feint-hearted, and I don't envy you - especially with everything that's going on in the World right now.

Out of interest, given that you voted for Brexit, how's it going these days for getting and keeping housekeepers and cleaners for your properties in the UK?

Anyway, I digress...

Today I read on the BBC website that - after "listening to GPs", the government had decided it was "not the right time" to introduce fines for patients who miss medical appointments.

This backtracks a pledge you personally made whilst campaigning to become the new leader of the Conservative party, back in July 2022.

Whilst it is a great relief to myself and millions of others that your colleagues talked some sense into you and you have made this u-turn so early on in your new Prime Minister-ship, it's also worrying that you'd made the pledge (a) at all, and (b) around the time you told the Sunday Telegraph you were a candidate who wanted to look “transformational”, “brave and….different”. 

How exactly did you think punishing people for not turning up to see medical professionals was a sign of bravery?  Picture the newspaper headlines:  "Widow opens late-husband's post to find a fine for no-show with GP".

As you were previously the Chancellor of the Exchequer, perhaps you thought the income from the fines could help offset the cost of the UK's annual mental ill health bill - currently estimated at £105 billion per year[1].  

All very well in theory, but how EXACTLY were you proposing to pay for the cost of enforcing the no-show fines, such as:

  • admin?
  • legal costs?
  • increased NHS costs because of (for example) increased numbers of people being:
    • added to long waiting lists because of stress-related illness, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression 
    • taken by ambulance to hospital and admitted as acute emergency cases because their place on waiting lists had  been extended by months and months?
    • increased numbers of medical professionals going on sick-leave or leaving the profession because of extra stress and burnout?
  • Increased social care costs because patients have become too unwell to return to chaotic/unsafe homes (delayed discharge/bed blocking)?

I could go on…..

As you’re an analyst by profession Mr Sunak, a wealthy person in the fortunate position of not having to worry about attending NHS appointments yourself and probably have secretaries and chauffeurs who help you to get to appointments on time (especially if there are PR/media/photo opportunities), my hope is that perhaps your colleagues asked you to analyse a few simple questions, such as:

  • How EXACTLY do you expect the health and wellbeing of the nation to have been improved by punishing no-show-ers?
  • What evidence do you have to justify the lack of EQUALITY in penalising people who:

    • quite probably have hidden disabilities and impaired Executive Functioning, which means they would have been likely to struggle with time blindness having been born with conditions like ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Bipolar Disorder, or acquired conditions during their lives such as brain injuries, Long COVID or other viral infections, possibly with chronic co-occurring health conditions – and therefore more likely to:
      • need reminder text messages about appointments - if hairdressers can do it, why not the NHS?
      • feel so unwell that they can’t attend appointments and forget to cancel/re-schedule because frankly they're simply too busy using their precious energy trying to:
      • remember to eat or drink or get to the toilet in time
      • take the right amount of medication at the right time
      • have nobody they can ask to contact the hospital/practice on their behalf
      • become overwhelmed by having to attend multiple medical appointments, or have sensory, trust and social interaction issues that means they need positive encouragement and practical help and support to enable them to carry out activities of daily living
      • be unwaged and amongst the poorest and most vulnerable members of society – and therefore need the most help and support
      • be less likely to have strong support networks, and therefore probably struggle to get adequate practical assistance to meet their complex needs - including to get to appointments
      • be more likely to miss appointments unless they get help to attend – such as a text message to remind them (if hairdressers can do it, why not the NHS?)
    • perhaps have caring responsibilities - for children, relatives who are sick, disabled or have dementia
    • feel frustrated that they can’t get through to departments on the phone, end up being cut off or put through to the wrong people because of faulty NHS telecom systems
    • feel frustrated and angry if their appointments are cancelled – particularly at short notice, or they’re put back at the beginning of the waiting list if they accidentally miss appointments
Speaking as someone with late diagnosed ADHD who also happens to be a Trustee of an ADHD support group, I'm here to tell you that many Neurodivergent individuals live for years (even entire lives) with undiagnosed ADHD (and often other Neurodevelopmental conditions too) or get mis-diagnosed with mental illnesses, and experience all manner of traumas during childhood and beyond because of our vulnerability.  

Often we don't fulfill our true potential, and end up living chaotic lives - perhaps involving alcohol, drugs, relationship problems, employment issues and poverty/debts (because it can be difficult for some of us to manage money).

The stress this can cause takes its toll on our health so that we burn out and potentially end up with stress related illness such as Fibromyalgia, ME, high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney/liver problems, or even cancer.

Doctors rarely have the time/energy to investigate the root causes, and resort to applying a sticking plaster cocktail of prescribed anti-anxiety and/or anti-depressant tablets.  And even if patients do receive the correct diagnosis, they rarely receive the right kind of trauma-informed help and support.

And how come they struggle so much?  Because the Government  invests more in TREATING illness rather than PREVENTING it.

EVERYONE needs a better understanding of how to recognise Neurodevelopmental conditions, and the challenges and difficulties experienced by those of us with impaired Executive Functioning. 

Instead, try investing in GOOD Neurodiversity training for ALL Government employees (irrespective of whether they’re MPs, teachers, NHS staff, Civil Servants, etc), to reduce the apathy  and stigma about hidden disabilities. 

Finally Prime Minister, as you're an analyst, here are a few numbers that speak for themselves:

  • 1 in 2 adults with Autism have anxiety[2]
  • 1 in 3 adults with Autism have depression[3]
  • 1 in 4 people experience mental illness at some point in their lives[4]
  • 1 in 8 workers in the UK (interviewed for research) admitted experiencing symptoms of burnout[5]
  • 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England[6]
  • 1 in 7 people in England with a diagnosable mental illness receive no treatment at all[7]
  • 1 in 8 workers in the UK have experienced burnout[8]
  • 1 in 8 people with PTSD also have other mental health problems such as depression, persistent anxiety, panic attacks or phobias, or misuse drugs or alcohol[9]
  • 1 in 10 people in the UK have Dyslexia[10]
  • 1 in 10 people who have died by suicide had evidence of Autistic traits[11]
  • 1 in 13 disabled people have no qualifications[12]
  • 1 in 14 people aged over 65 have Dementia[13]
  • 1 in 15 disabled people aged 16+ reported feeling lonely “often or always”[14]
  • 1 in 20 people have had suicidal thoughts at some time[15]
  • 1 in 50 people have Dyspraxic (Developmental Coordination Disorder) traits[16]
  • 1 in 100 people in the UK have an Autism diagnosis (with around 50% of those also having ADHD)[17]
  • 1 in 200 adults in the UK have ADHD (only 8% of them have a formal ADHD diagnosis)[18]
  • 1 in 200 people in the UK have Long COVID[19]
  • 1 in 200 people in the UK have an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
  • 1 in 400 people in the UK have weakened immune systems, which means they’re more vulnerable to infection

And remember Prime Minister, whilst these numbers may not represent the majority of people in the land (or indeed the healthiest or wealthiest), they/we are fed up with being treated so badly and unequally, and we DO have the ability to transform the life of you and your colleagues at the next election.

So Mr Sunak, to summarise:

  • I applaud your bravery for choosing to admit your mistake by retracting your pledge to fine people for not attending medical appointments.  
  • If you want to prove you truly are a brave, different and transformational Prime Minister, PLEASE pledge to support and protect the most vulnerable members of society instead of punish us, and make our lives and those of NHS workers  and other Government employees (and their families) a whole lot easier by doing so.
It's a vote-winner - I promise!

Yours sincerely

[1] Mental Health First Aid – MHFA

[2] National Autistic Society

[3] National Autistic Society

[4] WHO

[5] Mental Health UK, 2021

[6] Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), 2014

[7] Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, 2013

[8] Ceridian, 2022

[9] Dr Lawrence Scott, article in Patient, 2017

[10] NHS

[11] Cassidy, Baron-Cohen, 2022

[12] ONS, Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2021

[13] NHS

[14] ONS, Outcomes for disabled people in the UK: 2021

[15] Mind

[16] Lingham, Hunt, Golding, Jongmans, Emond – 2009

[17] National Autistic Society

[18] ADHD Action

[19] ONH, 2022

Wednesday 18 May 2022

UK estimates for people affected by Hoarding Disorder & Chronic Disorganisation


Dear Sirs

**Hypothetical UK Statistic Alert**

Ever since I became a Professional Organiser (back in 2011) and started learning about how to help people with hoarding behaviours, books written by hoarding/OCD experts told us that the estimated percentage of the population with Hoarding Disorder was anywhere between about 2% and 6%.

How accurate those figures are now and whether those numbers apply purely to America (which is where most of the original research on hoarding behaviours was carried out, and so where most of the books early books on the subject were written), l I don't know - I don't think anyone knows.

And of course the statistics may have changed since COVID-19, which changed everything - hopefully one day new research will be carried out that tells us.

What we do know is that there are thousands of Professional Organisers around the World offering practical help and support to the countless numbers of people who struggle with Chronic Disorganisation and/or hoarding behaviours.

Meanwhile, even though I'm not known for being a number cruncher, I thought it would be interesting to work how those statistics might apply to the UK.

So, for the purposes of this exercise let's assume that the estimate of 5% shown in the thought-provoking image above (and the one below, both kindly created for Hoarding Awareness Week by Steff Lee, Creative Director of animation studio Kinobino) is about right for the total percentage of people likely to be living with:
    • Disorganisation has been a factor in their life for many years
    • Their level of disorganisation interferes with the quality of their daily life, or negatively affect their relationships with others
    • Disorganisation has persisted despite self-help attempts to get organised (MANY of our clients own or have at some point owned at least one organising book!)
    • They hoard information (saving many articles, newspapers or books they’ve read)
    • They suffer from a “fear of filing”, and lose or misplace papers and items despite keeping them out, making it difficult to retrieve them
    • They have a compulsive shopping or acquiring problem
    • Their desk, floor and/or countertops are covered in papers
    • They have a wide range of interests and several uncompleted tasks and projects
    • They find it difficult to stay focused, are easily distracted or tend to lose track of time
That means that in the UK:
  • Out of 100 people you know, 5 of them could be living with issues related to clutter or disorganisation on a daily basis.
  • Out of a current population of about 68 million people in the UK (Source: Office of National Statistics), there could be around 3.4 million people who have hoarding tendencies or find it difficult to create order in their homes or their lives
  • Of the 15.5 million people in the UK currently aged over 60* (Source: MHS - the largest charity care provider for older people in the UK), there could potentially be 775,000 people currently struggling with or getting help to (for example):
    • manage and maintain nutrition - if they find it difficult to budget or plan ahead, or are self-neglecting and eating out-of-date food, or don't have a working fridge, or can't get into their kitchen because of the obstacles in the way
    • maintain personal hygiene - they may not be able to access their bathroom or toilet, or may not have hot water because their boiler doesn't work and they've not had it repaired because they're too embarrassed to allow people into their home
    • make use of their home safely - floors may be scattered with obstacles which could potentially cause someone to slip, trip or fall and injure themselves. And there may also be fire risks because of the accumulation of items that they've collected over many years, especially if they're using faulty electrical equipment which could cause a fire.
    • maintain an habitable home environment - they may not be able to get into rooms at all because they're so full, and have to sleep on a chair in the hall instead of a comfy bed
    • maintain family or other personal relationships - it's sadly very common for people affected by issues related to clutter, disorganisation and hoarding behaviours to be estranged from family members (who have become so frustrated with them and what they perceived was their refusal to declutter), and feel lonely, unloved and unsupported by services who don't understand the extent of their difficulties
    • accessing and engaging in work, training, education or volunteering - many of my clients have complex mental and/or physical health problems (usually because they've received inadequate or inappropriate support or treatment for many years) and are unable to work as a result
*Over 60's is the age group at greater risk of needing hospital treatment or having a fire in their homes than other age groups.

Multiply that by the number of people around the Globe, and that's quite a few people!

I could go on....

What don't we know?

What we don't have are the statistics about the impact on families, friends and support networks affected by clutter/disorganisation/hoarding-related issues. For example:
  • Children who :
    • might have nowhere to do their homework because there are no clear surfaces
    • don't have clean school uniforms to wear because there's no washing machine at home, or it doesn't work - or whose clothes smell of damp because there's nowhere for them to dry properly because of all the stuff
    • don't have friends round to visit their home or have sleepovers - because they're too embarrassed or there's no room to entertain them, or because their parents don't allow them because they're so worried about people judging them for having such a chaotic, clutter-filled, dysfunctional home
    • might have asthma which doesn't get better because of the mould on the walls - much of which may be hidden by obstacles like mountains of clothes, toys, and assorted paraphernalia
    • might be skin-picking, self-harming or socially distant because they feel stressed by their living environments and they don't think there's anyone they can talk to about it - or they've been told NOT to talk to anyone about it...
  • The people who give up all hope of ever feeling organised or receiving non-judgemental help and support, and take to drugs or alcohol to make them feel better - except often they make their situations worse, and without appropriate help and support they may feel so desperate that they attempt to take their own lives....
  • The countless people whose health has been affected by living with partners, parents or children who refuse to let go of possessions, or whose homes have become unsafe because of unwise decisions
  • Anyone who is supporting (or attempting to support) those who struggle to manage their affairs
  • People who give up full-time employment or take on part-time work so they can sort out Lasting Power of Attorney and become carers for parents or loved-ones with Dementia, and at the same time sort through and gradually get rid of their piles of stuff (losing track of the number of times they filled up recycling bins and took items to the charity shop, recycling centre and shredding company)
  • Relatives who inherit properties full of treasures and non-treasures such as furniture; assorted knickknacks; paperwork (possibly dating back over 50 years); books (some that were given to grandparents and great-grandparents); countless packs and albums of photos and 35mm slides; cars; tools; televisions and radios (dating back to the 1950's, or beyond); paintings, easels, paints and other painting/drawing paraphernalia; equipment for flower arranging and cake decorating, which then clutters up their own home until they have time to go through it
    • my own personal experience is that we're still sorting out my parent's stuff, 6-years after Dad died (and 4 years after the house was demolished) - and counting....
  • Relatives living abroad who have to put their trust in Professional Organisers, Professional Hoarding Practitioners and Solicitors to look after the health and wellbeing of elderly parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents (delete as applicable), and keep them safe
I could go on....

And let's not forget the professionals and trades people whose jobs involve working with people affected by clutter, disorganisation or hoarding behaviours on a DAILY basis, such as:
  • The Firefighters who put their lives at risk to extinguish blazes in homes containing too many possessions, and attempt to rescue residents from burning buildings
  • The care workers, ambulance crews and Paramedics who climb over piles of newspapers to attend to elderly ladies who: insist that they didn't fall over, they fell; forget to take medication; eat sugary foods every day despite being Diabetic, and resist every effort to leave the home where they've lived all their lives
  • The Nurses, Discharge Teams, Occupational Therapists and other hospital personnel tasked with finding somewhere for patients to stay if they're healthy enough to be discharged from a ward, but their homes are too unsafe for them to return to
  • The Social Workers who enthusiastically entered the profession with a passion for improving the lives of vulnerable people and were dedicated to making a difference, who now need time off work due to stress from high caseloads and negative work environments, or leave the profession completely after only a few years.
    • According to  writing in Workforce (the website for social workers) on September 4, 2020, four in ten newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) anticipated quitting the profession within the next five years.
  • The plumbers, electricians and maintenance people who struggle to get to radiators or boilers, or repair properties that have fallen into disrepair 
I could go on....

What I know from my own personal and professional experiences is that:
  • All these scenarios can be life-changing for those involved
  • Neither hoarding behaviours nor Chronic Disorganisation are lifestyle choices!

Both hoarding behaviours and Chronic Disorganisation can:
  • cause great distress
  • make people feel stigmatised and embarrassed
  • cost lives
  • cause bed-blocking (because a patient's home may be too unsafe or dysfunctional for them to return home to)
  • affect families, livelihoods, employment, benefits, and financial stability
  • be traumatic and require specialist support and therapy
  • lead to self-medicating, whether it be by shopping, drinking or taking drugs
  • be signs of self-neglect (in the UK, The Care Act 2014 states that hoarding can indicate an extreme lack of self-care, and therefore could be classified as self-neglect)
In both cases, that person can be extremely vulnerable to abuse, which is how people can end up in abusive relationships or becoming involved with the judicial system - as a perpetrator or a victim, or both.

What causes Chronic Disorganisation or hoarding behaviours?

Both are often mis-diagnosed and mis-treated by medical professionals, who prescribe anti-anxiety/ant-depressant medication without attempting to investigate or address the root causes of their patient's Executive Dysfunction - their ability to (for example):
  • plan - eg. where they're going to store things they acquire, or how to pay for them without going into debt
  • organise - eg. their homes
  • make decisions - eg. what to buy or how many they need (eg. they can't decide which colour t-shirt they should buy, so purchase one in each colour)
  • manage their time - eg. when they're going to set aside time to start/finish all the projects they believe they need their craft items for
  • manage their emotions - eg. not go into rages at people for telling them they need to have a clear-out (because they might be perfectionists and feel so anxious and pressured about making a decision that they can't do it without empathetic help and support to facilitate their decision-making)
I could go on....

In my experience of working with clients with complex needs, it's easier to assume (unless proven otherwise) that most of them have either Autism or ADHD or both, and/or other neurological conditions - usually undiagnosed.

In the case of engrained hoarding behaviours, there has often been some kind of trauma in the person's life, and they have one or more diagnosed mental illness.

What they rarely have is adequate or appropriate support from medical professionals able to identify that the root cause of their anxiety or distress could be a Neurodiverse condition such as ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia or Dyspraxia; mental health conditions;Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI), and sadly now also Long COVID.

Nor do they have enough assistance or support to manage day-to-day activities, which is how things become more and more chaotic, debts occur, bills don't get paid, etc.

Predicting the future

In a report published by the Office For National Statistics in 2019, they predict that the proportion of the UK population aged 85 years and over will almost double over the next 25 years, and that by 2043 the UK population will have jumped to 72.4 million.

So I did a very basic comparison of what could happen to the total UK population statistics previously mentioned, based on three possible scenarios:
  1. No action is taken and the estimated percentage stays the same at 5%
  2. No action is taken and the estimated percentage increases to around 7%
  3. Action is taken to reduce the risks outlined above, and the estimated percentage of people living with clutter, disorganisation or hoarding in the UK gets reduced from around 5% to 3%

Whilst some may argue that the results include people of all ages rather than adults only, it's important to understand that there is a genetic element to hoarding behaviours and chronic disorganisation which shouldn't be ignored.

Benefits of change

What is clear from the results is that investing in positive action to create policies with more holistic approaches to supporting this group could, for example:
  • Reduce the number of older people needing hospital treatment or having a fire in their homes
  • Potentially reduce bed-blocking in hospitals
  • Increase the number of people who are employed (so pay taxes), feel they have a purpose in life (which should improve their health and wellbeing and reduce the pressure on health and social care)
  • Improve public confidence in CCGs, local and national Government
Transformation plan

Reducing the risk of Chronic Disorganisation and hoarding behaviours occurring would require (for example):
  • Strong leadership from National Government, with involvement of ALL key stakeholder groups from Day 1 - not just politicians and accountants
  • Re-structuring health and social care to be more collaborative and take a more holistic and supportive approach to managing clients/patients
  • Empowering people affected by clutter, disorganisation or hoarding issues to access appropriate and timely treatment and PRACTICAL support
  • Recruiting, training/re-training and retaining enough specialist clinicians able to diagnose and support people with complex needs
  • Training/re-training GPs, medical professionals, social workers, educators, emergency services, solicitors, etc about hoarding behaviours, chronic disorganisation, Executive Dysfunction and the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form (that I created to empower people to ask for help if their health has been adversely affected by these issues)
  • Funding research on these topics and introducing them into the National Curriculum so that all children and eventually adults begin to talk about organisational disorders in the same way they're now encouraged to discuss mental ill-health
Can you see the (£) signs?

Yes, there could be a lot of funding required to make this happen, and yes, it could take a while to achieve a worthwhile Return on Investment (ROI) for this major transformation programme.

If nothing else, I invite you to purely asses the benefits case associated with Government bodies perpetually having to:
  • Spend millions of Pounds defending themselves in Court due to the illegal, incompetent or inappropriate actions of public sector employees
  • Replace the exhausted and overwhelmed health and social care professionals struggling to cope with ridiculous caseloads, in the same way as the people I've been writing about are struggling - the ones they're supposed to be there to help.

Remember, hoarded and cluttered homes can kill people - whether by fire, mould or having a fall. So doing nothing to reduce the risk is not only playing with fire, it's like fanning the flames, tripping over the fire extinguisher, knocking yourself out, incurring a brain injury and not remembering who you are.

And that wouldn't be a very pleasant lifestyle choice, would it?

Yours practically...

This blog was originally published on 20th May 2021 - it has been updated to reflect recent name and website changes to organisations (where known) plus additional relevant information.
+ + + + +

Are you one of those people who's struggling? Or do you know someone in need help and support?

If so, you could:
  • Take a look at the website Hoarding.Support (previously known as Help for Hoarders) where there’s heaps (pardon the pun!) of information and self-help suggestions, plus a forum where people can share experiences amongst a community of hope and understanding
  • Speak to someone you trust who may be able to signpost you for help and support - that might be your GP (or other medical professional), Adult Social Care at your local authority, your landlord, Citizens Advice or even the leader of your faith group.
If you don’t know what to say, you could try using the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form to start a conversation - simply print it out, tick a few boxes, estimate what level on the Clutter Image Rating Scale (CIR) the piles are in the various areas of your home, and hand it over to your trusted person.

And if the person you chose to talk to isn't very empathetic, you could suggest they:
  • contact the charity HoardingUK for expert guidance
  • arrange to have a chat with me or a Professional Hoarding Practitioner - we'll set them straight!
  • If you're outside the UK, contact your local Professional Organiser Association listed below.
*There are currently 10 members of the Federation of Professional Organizer Associations (FPOA), in:
Plus Australia has IOPO, which is comparatively new, and will hopefully meet the criteria to become a FPOA member soon.

#hoardinghelp #hoardingawarenessweek #hoarding #FireKills #mentalhealth #chronicdisorganisation #ExecutiveDysfunction #Neurodiversity #clutter #stopthestigma

+ + + + +
About Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red (and Creator of the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form)

Cherry began her career as a Professional Hoarding Practitioner
trainer, mentor, consultant, activist and campaigner in 2011, after her mother died and they recognised her father (who had hoarding behaviours) had dementia.  It took her and her family two years to clear the house after he died.

Cherry was diagnosed with ADHD in 2019 (aged 56) and became a Trustee of her local ADHD Support Group (Fastminds, in Kingston-upon-Thames), which is why she now specialises in working with people with hoarding behaviours, chronic disorganisation and complex needs.

She has been a:

For further information please contact Cherry Rudge - Phone/Text: 07931 303310 - Email: