As hoarding, which the NHS recognises as a disorder, continues to grow in the UK, Yorkshire Housing has created the first-ever app to speed up access to support while reducing health and safety risks.
Currently, four per cent of the UK population is affected by this disorder. It’s a growing problem, made worse by the pandemic. It can have serious health and safety risks for residents, families, neighbours and housing providers. Getting in and around the home can be especially difficult, which can result in falls or trips. It can also contribute to pest control issues. Regular gas or electric checks can be hard to carry out. And above all, there is an increased fire risk.
In 2020, Yorkshire Housing dealt with 16 cases of hoarding, but in 2022 (just up to May alone) there are 11 reported cases.
Yet, reporting these cases has historically been slow, with an expensive paper-based exercise, which delays the residents from receiving the help they desperately need. After, the information must be manually inputted into a case management system or attached as a file. This is a long and outdated process that hinders everyone involved. Until now, that is.
During a hackathon hosted by Yorkshire Housing, the charity’s Innovation Team came up with the idea of using Power Apps to streamline the process. With this app, colleagues can carry out inspections and report concerns much more quickly as they can log all relevant information into one singular system.
With the new app, colleagues can carry out inspections and report concerns without the complicated paperwork and multiple steps.
There are now two options for reporting hoarding. There’s the ‘report a concern’ feature and the ‘full assessment’ tool. Both use a score-based system for each question to grade the risk, with the information automatically sent as a report to the Customer Independence team, where the results are triaged.
Where concerns are highlighted, the team can then swiftly arrange a visit to the customer’s house to carry out an in-depth assessment. Not only has this created a more organised method for reporting (especially when multiple cases come into play), but it means teams can visit residents more quickly and efficiently.
The app was later presented to the Safeguarding Committee, who provided great feedback, and the app was developed further.
John Smart, innovation analyst at Yorkshire Housing, says: “Hoarding can affect people in devastating ways and it really should be treated as any other disorder with appropriate levels of support, rather than anti-social behaviour.
“Our goal was to use the systems and tech we already use and digitalise the hoarding reporting process. Speeding up access to support and encouraging more colleagues to raise their concerns is important to us.
“And in the world of all things digital, we were able to make that transition from the old paper method to the new app, while adjusting many of the reporting features.”
Through the industry-first app, Yorkshire Housing is recognising the growing issue of hoarding and continue to focus on developing solutions that reduce the risks to customers.