Sérénité Cleaning helps clients get their homes back
The behaviour can range from a simple over-abundance of possessions to actual compulsive behaviour that can threaten the health of its sufferers and their loved ones.
As of 2013, hoarding disorder is an diagnosable mental illness, affecting it is estimated two to five per cent of the adult population.
In her former career as a social service worker, Melissa Lamontagne often had clients who were hoarders.
So when Lamontagne opened her own cleaning business, Sérénité Cleaning Solutions, last October, she decided she wanted to do what she could to help hoarders. She attended a course in Toronto where she learned about hoarding cleanup.
Hoarding is the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.
Lamontagne, who also does more conventional residential and business cleaning, as well as preparations for bed bug treatments, said people hoard for a variety of reasons.
Some have physical and cognitive impairments, and just can't care for their homes properly. Others have mental illnesses that have made them unusually attached to their possessions.
“When you go and work with them, it's very hard, because you're pretty much taking away a part of themselves,” Lamontagne said.
Some cases are mild, and just involve someone who has let a certain part of their home become too cluttered — their clothes closet, for example.
More severe cases involve piles of possessions and garbage everywhere. As many hoarders also hoard animals, there could also be animal feces and or even deceased animals in the client's living area.
It's a real problem, as beyond the obvious health risks of living in this environment, hoarders can be evicted or even have their children taken away from them, Lamontagne said.
She said she receives most of her referrals from either family members or social service agencies working with clients. Before doing any job, she meets with the client to find out what the situation is.
If the hoarding problem has been caused by a physical or mental disability, there's usually no issue with going in and cleaning up in one day, as they're usually “happy you're helping out,” she said.
In cases where the client is more attached to their hoard, she cleans up gradually over several appointments. “This way they're not as anxious,” she said.
For more information, contact Sérénité Cleaning Solutions at 705-207-1976, [email protected] or www.scleaningsolutions.com.