Friday, December 16, 2011

Cleaning Out and Cleaning UP

A client of mine who has some, ah, let's call it "moderate" hoarding issues recently made it a goal of hers to clear out her kitchen enough that she could set up the table and chairs that she has.  I am helping her with this, and we began by tackling a corner where she had numerous plastic and paper shopping bags stacked about knee high.  In many of these bags were old empty prescription bottles she hadn't wanted to throw out due to her name and address being on the labels.  In all of the other bags were FULL prescription bottles of medication she hadn't taken, including some serious pain killers.  Apparently her doc has continued prescribing her 3xday when she only takes them as needed (maybe one a day a few days a week).  She had these from the past 4-5 years.  The mind boggles to think of what the street value of these things would be.

We just returned them to the pharmacy for proper disposal.


  1. How wonderful...that must have felt so satisfying to you to have made some concrete progress :)

    How was it for the client? Did she have a lot of fears or concerns over getting rid of her extra supplies of pain killers? And how did you calm her anxiety regarding her name and address being on the labels of the empty containers?

  2. DorleeM...interestingly, with this client she really hadn't kept the painkillers with any intent to use them in the future, on the contrary she rarely takes them (hence all the left overs) and doesn't like them. She just is in the habit of keeping everything. She even joked with the pharmacist when we walked in to return 3 full grocery bags of meds to be disposed of.
    We got creative with the privacy concerns. We used a black Sharpie to cross out her personal information on all pill bottles and boxes. Any paper that had her information she entrusted to me to put in the shredder box at the office.
    Unfortunately, she's put off continuing on clearing out at the moment, as we've been dealing with some other matters, and I just cannot spend the amount of time neccessary with her to focus on everything and address the hoarding . I've been seeing her 2-3 times a week which is much more than most other clients in our program. To deal with hoarding effectively, you need so much dedicated time. It's really too bad because she felt really good about herself after we had started on this, especially when her kids came home from school and noticed the change!

  3. you are obviously not in the UK,because the S.W in the UK do not help clear out or any other kind of manuall work. They just write notes which no one reads, tick boxes, go on courses to enhance their salary which enhances their pension and cause a lot of distress for the patient and their family. In my dealings of fourty years with mental health social workers and phyciatrists,they have managed to destroy any trust and happiness we had due to plain stupidity.The get a degree which is coppying words out of bookswhich has nothing atall to do with people. It is about time they were tested on commonsense which they seem to be devoid of.

  4. Anon, it sounds like you've had a really bad run of experiences with social services, I'm really sorry to hear that has happened to you.
    I work in Canada, and from what I understand there are some significant differences in our system to that in the UK, although I think there are social workers there who do work more akin to mine. Cleaning houses would not be a typical part of my job, but I do these type of things to help clients learn how to do it/cope with it themselves.
    As with many professions, for every faceless, non-caring social worker and agency I think there are a handful of good ones out there. I hope if you have need of the social service system again you'll get connected with a more supportive worker so you can commit yourself to fixing whatever the issue is.