Multidisciplinary Approach

Treating self-neglect requires a team of medical and non-medical experts from many different fields. A team often has experts in many of the following fields (Snowdon & Halliday, 2009):

Social Work
Did You Know!
Special social work knowledge is required to diagnose and intervene in self-neglect. Social workers of various types tend to be the professionals that most often first respond to self-neglect cases (H. Ramsey-Klawsnik, PDSA cycle 2017, February 11)

Medical Services

Medical services is often used throughout treatment. The primary care provider orders appropriate treatments and exams. The primary care provider monitors and modifies treatments. A social worker links the individual or family with the appropriate resources. A home care aide provides help with activities of daily living, managing medications, shopping, laundry, and companionship. Home health care is often required for individuals with needs for advanced medical services (see Table 1, Medical Services).


Table 1: Medical Services


A professional cleaning crew may be required for severe cases of self-neglect with hoarding

Non-Medical Services

The non-medical team will likely be used in the early part of the treatment. Adult Protective Services caseworkers are often the “first-responders” in cases of self-neglect. Inspectors, utility workers, cleaning crews, pest-control, and animal control may be needed to make the house of a hoarder safe again. Police may need to be present if there are confrontations between the professionals and the individual with self-neglect. Legal help will be required if the individual with self-neglect is found to be incompetent. However, some non-medical services will be required long-term. Organizations that provide prepared meals, such as Meals-on-Wheels, may be required for individuals unable to cook for themselves. Transportation services can be used for those unable to drive (see Table 2: Non-medical Services).


Table 2: Non-Medical Services


Ramsey-Klawsnik, H. (2017, February 11). PDSA cycle.

Snowdon, J., & Halliday, G. (2009). How and when to intervene in cases of severe domestic squalor. International Psychogeriatrics, 21(06), 996-1002.

Last updated: June 7, 2020 at 16:35 pm by
I. M. Abumaria, Doctor of Nursing Practice
Version 2.00