The Pack and Clean technique is a short term solution to the hoarding problem that may be appropriate when a client is under extreme pressure to make a fast and dramatic change to the environment. For example, this technique may be used in an instance where a client is unable to be released from hospital due the condition of their home or where they need to place their home on the market to fund their next move. Rather than discarding, items are packed and moved to a secondary location so that the home can be cleaned and “re-staged” as appropriate.
This is not a technique to be used lightly. Many people who hoard will suggest this as a method of dealing with their clutter. However, when people move things into storage with the intention of dealing with items one at a time, typically their now empty space fills quickly to its original level, and the things in storage are overlooked.
This technique is only suitable when a client is under extreme pressure to make fast change and there is no other alternative.
Similar to this technique is a method that is gaining popularity on television makeover shows. The contents of entire rooms are moved into a marquee or offsite location, sorted, purged and then returned to the home. This method is labour intensive, time consuming and expensive. Being confronted with an overwhelming volume of items can be distressing and anxiety producing and does not create an environment for sound decision making.
Out in the Real World
We met Janet in Lesson 2.4. She had been admitted to hospital for a relatively minor procedure, but while there it was discovered that she had cancer and required immediate surgery as well as ongoing cancer treatment. Janet had two dogs that she loved. She was desperate to be back in her home with the company of her pets. Narrowed passages, blocked exits, lack of working heating and burnt out light bulbs in every room created an unsafe environment for Janet as well as the care agencies required to support her in her recuperation. Janet did not have the physical or emotional capacity to deal with the clutter and at this stage it was not her highest priority. The Pack and Clean technique was used to make Janet’s home safe without the stress associated with discarding. Unfortunately, Janet’s cancer was fatal but she was able to spend her final days safely in her home with her beloved pets.