Collette Oswald RCYCC, TPO: Steps for Helping Loved Ones Escape Squalor | Room by Room #49

In this episode, host Gabriella Joustra is joined by Collette Oswald RCYCC, TPO, who is a Registered and Certified Child and Youth Care Counsellor, Trained Professional Organizer, and holds level 1 certificates of study in ADHD and Chronic Disorganization

Squalor and hoarding are conditions that significantly impact individuals’ lives and their relationships with families and friends. Understanding the complexities of squalor and hoarding can help individuals offer meaningful support to loved ones struggling with these issues.

Meet Collette Oswald RCYCC, TPO

Collette is a delegation trainer with the Government of Alberta. She teaches newly hired Child Intervention Practitioners and assists with creating and editing course content. 

Collette also runs Organizing by Oz. She is a registered and certified child and youth care counselor and has been helping families reach their goals for over 20 years. She is also a trained professional and virtual organizer and holds her Level 1 Certificate of Study in ADHD and Level 1 Foundational Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization. 

Her education and passion for meeting clients and helping them create SMART goals that meet their diverse needs are what set Collette apart. She also lives with ADHD and brain injury daily with her family and understands all emotions and adaptations needed. 

Whether you are downsizing, upsizing, needing to declutter, or creating ongoing organizing routines to create more functional spaces, Collette and her sub-contractors can help. Organizing by Oz offers in-home and virtual organizing support to individuals and families. She and her subcontractors are licensed and insured.

Her services are also claimable as attendant care services for clients on CPP disability or through some employer wellness plans. Collette is also the author of two publications and an e-course on getting organized. She is available for speaking engagements. 

About the episode

Squalor and hoarding are often misunderstood, leading to stigmatization and isolation of those affected. Colette emphasizes that these conditions are deeply intertwined with mental health, with roots usually traceable back to childhood. They can manifest due to various factors, including trauma, anxiety, ADHD, and depression. 

Early intervention can significantly impact the trajectory of hoarding behavior. Warning signs include distress at the thought of parting with items, feeling safer when surrounded by possessions, and a home environment that impedes daily functioning. Recognizing these signs allows for timely support and intervention.

One of the most critical aspects of helping a loved one with hoarding or squalor conditions is approaching them without judgment. Colette stresses the importance of respecting the individual’s autonomy and working at a pace comfortable for them. Throwing away their possessions without consent can breach trust and hinder progress.

Collette shared practical tips for families and friends on how to offer support to someone experiencing these conditions:

  • Educate Yourself: Learning about squalor, hoarding, and related mental health issues can help you understand your loved one’s experiences and challenges.
  • Communicate Openly: Foster an environment of open and honest communication. Discuss concerns without judgment and listen to their perspective.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries: Work together to establish boundaries and routines that encourage a healthier living environment while respecting the individual’s limits.
  • Offer Practical Support: Practical support can range from organizing the living space to finding professional help. Always ensure the person struggling is involved in the decision-making process.
  • Take Care of Your Well-being: Supporting someone with hoarding tendencies can be emotionally taxing. Ensure you also seek support, whether through professional counseling or support groups, to manage your well-being.

Seeking professional help from organizers specializing in chronic disorganization and mental health professionals is essential. These experts can provide support and strategies tailored to the individual’s needs. Aftercare, including maintenance routines and support groups, is significant in preventing relapse and promoting a healthier lifestyle.

In conclusion

Understanding and supporting someone with squalor or hoarding tendencies requires compassion, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Making meaningful progress requires recognizing the underlying mental health issues, respecting the individual’s autonomy, and seeking professional help.

The journey is about clearing the clutter and addressing the emotional and psychological aspects that contribute to the condition.

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