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PhD student: Kerry-Ann Liles

Kerry-Ann Liles is conducting an ESF-funded KESS PhD in to hoarding disorder

Hoarding disorder affects approximately 4-6 per cent of the population. In Wales there is a lack of community-based support with no governmental nor local policies and procedures to help housing associations support tenants with hoarding behaviour. 

Traditionally hoarding has been viewed as a housing issue and ways of dealing with it have included punitive measures such as enforced clear-outs, recharges to the tenant and in severe cases, eviction. This is not ideal for tenants or housing associations as it is often ineffective and costly. Each case of hoarding disorder costs a housing association an estimated £45k.

As part of my ESF-funded KESS PhD, I am partnered with United Welsh and Monmouthshire Housing Association to trial Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a potential method for reducing hoarding behaviour. MI is a conversational method used to identify and enhance an individual’s desire to change by exploring and resolving ambivalence. 

The initial investigation was designed to be delivered face-to-face in participant’s homes. However, due to social distancing requirements, the study has been adapted to provide remote delivery of MI using an online video and audio platform like WhatsApp. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that United Welsh and Monmouthshire Housing Association have had to pivot to provide remote services. This provided me with an opportunity to broaden my PhD's focus and include an additional theme of exploring remote service delivery from service provider and service user perspective. I am looking forward to building on my findings so far and seeing what emerges from this new strand too.

Findings so far

  • Knowing that someone is going to call every week can help keep people on track 
  • Individual' priorities and goals may differ from that of the housing association - let the participants guide you on what is right for them 
  • Feeing/being in control is important. This could be manifested in rescheduling sessions or missing them 
  • Some individuals may have a lack of understanding of their situation 
  • For those who have lived with the clutter for a long time it can become normal and often overwhelming 

Kerry-Ann Liles, PhD KESS Psychology of hoarding