Betty is a profoundly Deaf 40 year old sign language user living in London. She needed our support to overcome her hoarding behaviour
Betty has been struggling to cope with her hoarding behaviour for years. Her house was completely overflowing with things that she simply couldn’t part with, and had become unsafe.
The garden at her home was overgrown and inaccessible. Mouse droppings and fallen leaves had blocked up the gas flue, so the gas company condemned her heating system as unsafe.
To begin with Betty got support from the Council, but her social worker was hearing and didn’t know sign language. There were no support workers at the council who could use sign language.
When the council turned to London Outreach from SignHealthBetty immediately began to make progress. Simply talking to someone in her own language helped. It quickly became apparent that Betty preferred to communicate with another Deaf person, rather than any of our hearing workers who are fluent in sign language, so SignHealth ensured all her support workers were Deaf.
After a year of working with her, SignHealth has helped Betty begin to clear away some of the items that prevented her from using the toilet or kitchen facilities, and her entire garden has been cleared.
That means she can now have central heating again.
There is a still very long way to go, before Betty can resolve the psychological issues that are preventing her from clearing her house completely. SignHealth is working with Betty to help her understand that she has a problem. There is Psychological Therapy available in sign language (delivered by SignHealth’s BSL Healthy Minds) but Betty isn’t yet willing to use it.
Making friends at the local Deaf club is something Betty finds difficult, so Outreach are helping her to become less isolated. SignHealth Outreach support workers help Betty to go out into the community and enjoy everyday activities most people take for granted, such as visiting a café.
Betty also has to deal with complex and distressing family and legal issues which she does not understand. SignHealth is helping her make sense of the legal situation and make more informed choices.
Every week, Betty is improving her social skills, and we hope that in time she will agree to the therapy that is needed to address her mental health problems. Ultimately we’d like to support her in a move to a smaller home and to resolve her hoarding behaviour.
We’ve made up the name Betty, to protect the identity of the lady we support. All the other details in her story are unchanged.