Tuesday, 19 August 2003
This presentation is part of : Squalor: Assessment and Intervention

S024-005 Previous Studies of People Who Live in Squalor

John Snowdon, Old age psychiatry, Old age psychiatry, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Objective: To review the literature on domestic squalor

Design: Relevant papers were reviewed

Materials and Methods: Medline helped identify papers written since 1966, when Macmillan and Shaw drew attention to clinical conditions presenting because of squalor ("Senile breakdown in standards of personal and environmental cleanliness").

Results: Clark et al (1975, using the term Diogenes Syndrome), and a few other researchers, have described cases referred to psychiatric and medical services. Halliday et al described cases referred to a heavy duty cleaning service. Young, middle-aged and older people, with a variety of psychiatric and physical disorders, some with personality quirks but no definite psychiatric illnesses, have been described as living in conditions of personal and environmental neglect. Filth matters little to some people and in some places. Cultural attitudes, environmental health regulations, and local legislation determine what can be done to maintain or restore the rights and wellbeing of neighbours and of those who live in squalor. Not enough has yet been written on how best to coordinate services and use legislation in dealing with squalor.

Conclusion: This symposium is a response to the obvious need to discuss our various experiences, problems and successes in dealing with squalor.

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