Yorkshire Housing has created what it says is the first-ever app to speed up access to support for hoarders while reducing health and safety risks.
Yorkshire Housing’s Innovation Team decided to launch the project when they spotted the growing hoarding trend alongside the long process of referring people to necessary support.
Currently, 4% of the UK population is affected by this disorder, which 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, and it can also contribute to pest control issues.
Further, regular gas or electric checks can be hard to carry out, and there is an increased fire risk.
In 2020, Yorkshire Housing dealt with 16 cases of hoarding; but in 2022 there have been 11 reported cases so far.
Reporting such cases has historically been slow, with an expensive paper-based exercise that delays the residents from receiving the help they need.
After, the information must be manually inputted into a case management system or attached as a file.
In response to this issue, during a ‘hackathon’ hosted by Yorkshire Housing, the charity’s Innovation Team came up with the idea of using Power Apps.
With this app, colleagues can carry out inspections and report concerns 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: the ‘report a concern’ feature and the ‘full assessment’ tool.
Both of these options 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 arrange a visit to the customer’s house to carry out an in-depth assessment.
Yorkshire Housing says the app facilitates a more organised method for reporting, especially when multiple cases come into play, and allows teams to visit residents more quickly and efficiently.
The app was later presented to the Safeguarding Committee, which provided “great” feedback, according to the housing provider.
The app has since been developed further.
John Smart, innovation analyst at Yorkshire Housing, said: “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.”
Image credit: WitthayaP/Shutterstock
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