Part 1 – Print & tick (also see DOWNLOAD)

Part 2 – Preparing to discuss what you’ve written

4 – Be prepared to answer questions

There could be a number of different reasons why you might be feeling unwell, so it’s best not to assume there’s just one cause, or just one treatment.

Based on the answers you’ve given on the form, the person you show the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form to should ask you all sorts of questions to enable them to start working out what might be causing your symptoms, and discuss some options that will hopefully help make you feel better.

Don’t be surprised if they suggest involving other people to support you or your family with practical assistance. If that’s likely to be an issue for you, don’t just agree that it’s an option – tell them if it isn’t!

To save time, it’s a good idea to be ready to answer questions the trusted person you’re hoping to talk to may ask you about the things you’ve ticked/circled on the form.

Write down in advance what you’re going to say, so you don’t forget on the day if you become flustered.

Here are a few examples of what GPs or other medical professionals might ask, and a few answers that some people have given. Your experiences may be completely different – be honest.

  • What symptoms do you have that are making you feel unwell, what triggers them and how is it affecting you?
    • Your response might be something like:
      • “Sometimes I feel shaky and sick because I feel so anxious about opening post, which is why there are unopened envelopes in my hallway”.
      • Or…. “I’m not sleeping very well because my brain can’t switch off, and I feel so overwhelmed by the chaos in my home”
      • Or…..“My neck and shoulders often feel achy and tense because it’s so cold in my home.  In the Winter I wear lots of layers, gloves and a scarf because there’s no heating.  I feel too embarrassed to let an engineer in to repair it because they can’t get to the boiler to service it because of all the items in front of it”
      • Or…..”I feel upset and angry because I find it difficult to concentrate on doing homework and studying for exams as I don’t have a desk in my bedroom and we can’t get to the dining table any more because of all the stuff in front of it. It’s affecting my grades and I’m worried I won’t get into University.”
  • How long has this been a problem?
    • Your responses might be something like (for example):
      • “Making decisions is difficult for me – especially about what to keep, what to get rid of and where to put things, so I put it off as long as possible.  It’s been a problem ever since I was a child.”
      • Or….“My mother had hoarding behaviours – she died five years ago and I inherited loads of things from her which are now cluttering my home and making me feel very emotional and overwhelmed!”

5 – ALWAYS take someone with you

We strongly recommend you have someone with you when you have a conversation about what you’ve written on the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form with a medical professional or trusted person – especially if the difficulties you’ve been experiencing have been stressful, upsetting or are trauma related.

It means you can concentrate on answering the interviewer’s questions while the person with you makes notes, and reminds you to say things you might have forgotten.

6 – Request a summary (in writing) of what has been discussed and agreed

Your perception of what’s been discussed and agreed may be different to the person you were meeting with, which is why it’s important that you ask them to send you a summary of your conversation.

If the meeting summary they send you seems to contradict your understanding of what was discussed/agreed, ask for a follow-up meeting. That way you can explain what’s confusing you and they can clarify any misunderstandings.

Part 3 – Post-discussion de-brief

Meet with the person who accompanied you to discuss the notes sent by the interviewer, and agree next steps.

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