Community Response to Cumpulsive Hoarding in Older Adults

SSW Investigator(s):

Gail Steketee, PhD

Funding Source:

Farnsworth Foundation grant for doctoral research by Christiana Bratiotis, MSW

Project Description:

The substantial risk to health and safety for older adults, their families, and the community, together with lengthy, challenging, and limited treatment options makes compulsive hoarding a difficult problem for agencies to address. These factors also require a coordinated and effective agency and community response, but public policies in most communities are punitive rather than intervention focused. The recent formation of several task forces across the country to correct this problem provides a promising avenue to address hoarding on a community and personal level. This project evaluates the effectiveness of eight multidisciplinary community task forces developing across the U.S. Methodology includes interview surveys of key task force members; participant observation of task force meetings for a subset of the community sites; and a case study of one community in the early stages of developing interagency coordination for compulsive hoarding. The study will capture the perspectives of public and private service providers (mental health, housing, elder services, public health agencies, private family service agencies) and community enforcement organizations (police, fire, legal systems, animal control), and will generate policy recommendations to address local and state responsiveness for this population of vulnerable elders.