An extreme hoarder, who hadn’t seen her floor in four years, has called in a team of professionals for help.
45-year-old Sally-Ann Howell, from Tivadale, West Midlands called on the services of cleaning specialists N Gervais in November 2016 after the council received complaints about the smell coming from her flat.
As well as providing a standard domestic cleaning service, N Gervais also have a specialist department dedicated to helping hoarders.
They are generally called in when hoarding tenants are threatened with eviction, and work closely with the individuals to help them as well as declutter their homes.
But even seasoned hoarding specialists Tee and Caz were shocked by what they found when they entered Sally-Ann’s home.
Her two-bedroom flat was filled to the brim with 4ft high piles of bin bags, cat litter, bottles of urine and cat faeces that had accumulated over 4 years.
Caz said, ‘we offer people like Sally like a great service. Plenty of aftercare, commitment, confidentiality, support TLC. I’d say we’re gentle in our approach.’
‘We respect their homes and their things. It shouldn’t be deemed as a ‘house clearance’ because it’s their possessions, their lives.’
‘The majority of us have some form of a care background, whether it be mental health, learning difficulties or working for the NHS.’
There’s no doubt that Tee and Caz were the perfect people to help self-confessed hoarder Sally-Ann, who was close to brink by the time they arrived.
Sally-Ann admits, ‘there are a lot of people who have such a terrible time getting rid of a piece of paper – I’m not that sort of hoarder.’
‘My hoarding is to do with me being stressed out with my anxiety and my depression, that when having a lot of stuff, I just think, well I need to get rid of it but I never do because my mentality cannot cope with it.’
‘My hoarding actually started in the middle of 2010. My cat passed away, all of a sudden had a heart attack, and that’s when it started, leading from him and then depression and anxiety.’
‘Then I started going out with someone and started having problems with him and then another cat passed away. And it just snowballed from there. It would just build up and build up and then it gets to a stage where you can’t cope anymore.’
Sally-Ann’s situation had become so extreme that she was no longer able to access her kitchen. She also made the decision to sleep on a chair in her hallway, after her cat sadly died in her bed.
When they arrived, Tee and Caz estimated that it would take them around two weeks to clear the flat, but it ended up taking over a month for a full clean.
And even after transforming Sally-Ann’s rubbish-filled flat into a beautiful home, the work doesn’t stop there for Tee and Caz.
They offer an after-care package where they visit their clients after the clean to ensure they are coping and not hoarding again.
In April 2017, Tee and Caz checked in with Sally-Ann and were thrilled to learn that despite the tragic news that Sally-Ann’s mum had recently passed away, she still wasn’t hoarding.
Sally-Ann says, ‘my life has improved dramatically. I feel healthier, a lot happier – even though I still suffer from depression and anxiety. The passing of my mum has only been very recently but because of the state of how I am living now I can handle it more.’
‘If got to the stage where if my mum had passed away and I was still living in the same situation as I was I don’t think I’d still be here if I’m honest.’
‘There are millions of people out there that are living like I was and if they can see me and say ‘she’s done it’ then maybe they can do it themselves. But they have to have the right mindset.’
‘Because the girls helped me I’ve come back to my old self. They’re not just a cleaning service – I see them as family. I love them to bits.’
Watch the video above to see this extreme clean in action!