A home of a hoarder living in Seaton.

There are more hoarders and self-neglect cases across East Devon than most people realise.

A Seaton resident, who became overwhelmed with their own home, living without heating, dangerous electrics and with an unusable kitchen and bathroom, has got the help they needed thanks to East Devon District Council (EDDC).

EDDC is called in to help deal with more than a dozen hoarder and self-neglect cases, in privately rented and owned homes, a year.

Hoarding is something that happens behind closed doors across the country. Struggling residents, from all walks of life, can end up needing support from their local councils which work with partners such as social service, GPs or the NHS and mental health teams.

EDDC has revealed one of the many very unique cases it has been called to, to help a resident who was taken into hospital, and couldn’t be released until their home was clean and safe.

A specially trained EDDC officer was called in, by a social worker, to help the resident who didn’t know where to start in their own home and had not allowed anyone to enter in years, out of embarrassment. 

The house, which hadn’t had anything done to it since it had been inherited, had begun to fall into a state of disrepair and needed to be decluttered, cleaned and have vital works done to make it liveable.

The officer, from EDDC’s ‘environmental health’s private sector housing team’, built a relationship with the resident over two years, handling what was a very sensitive case, going above and beyond.

This included multiple visits to the home, including during out-of-office hours, and working with a social worker, district nurse and occupational therapist.

As well as this, the resident was also referred to a number of partner organisations which assessed their eligibility, helping them to get the grants and loans needed to pay for much-needed property repairs and upgrades.

This included:

  • Lendology which awarded two loans – the first paid for the clean-up and the second paid for a new kitchen, a complete rewire of the property, a new back door and roof repairs.
  • Exeter Community Energy found funding for first time central heating – it paid for a new gas eco-boiler and central heating throughout the person’s home.
  • A disabled facility grant (through EDDC) also paid for a stair lift and a special bathroom so the resident could shower safely.

Before and after works were done to the kitchen at the Seaton home.

Councillor Dan Ledger, EDDC’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities said:

This was a very unique case but like many others, this wasn’t just a quick fix, our officers worked closely with the resident over two years.

We were able to maximise everything we could do, offering every assistance we were able to give, because this resident was eligible for it.

It really is a good demonstration of the wonderful work and achievements of our hard-working officers, especially when it requires cross-department work, pulling in other organisations, going above and beyond the call of duty.

In this case the resident had become overwhelmed in their own home and didn’t know where to start, the help offered made a real impact on their quality of life and when we have revisited, the home is still spotless. The resident has since told officers how they couldn’t have done it without their support, and is so much happier now, especially as they can finally have visitors over, which they would have never done before.

If you are struggling with hoarding and/or self-neglect, please contact your GP and ask for help and contact EDDC’s environmental health's private sector team by emailing pshousing@eastdevon.gov.uk or call 01395 571572.

If you are a friend or family member and know someone that needs help, please contact EDDC with the above details.