Dr Gianetta Rands

by | 16 Aug, 2022

Dr Gianetta Rands, HUK Medical Advisor since 2015, retires.


HoardingUK would like to thank Dr Rands for her ongoing commitment to her work over these many years. Her wisdom and input have been valued by all who have had the good fortune to work with her.  We wish you well.

In 2015, I retired from the NHS after 34 years working as a doctor, mostly as a psychiatrist.  A few weeks before leaving, Megan asked me a favour.  Would I take on the role of medical adviser to her newly created charity, Hoarding UK?

Megan and I had worked together at Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust, mostly on cases involving the Mental Capacity Act (2005) (MCA), in which a patient’s capacity to make decisions was in doubt and they needed involvement of a mental capacity advocate.  Both Megan and I were/are enthusiasts about this human right based legislation, the MCA, that was enacted from 2007   At that time, I was Consultant for acute and long stay mental health wards where many of the patients had dementia or other conditions affecting their cognition.  Most lacked mental capacity and many were detained under the Mental Health Act.  I saw the MCA as a reliable and humane structure for making decisions in the interests of patients, rather than the system or any other interested parties.

In my opinion, the MCA remains just that.  When it is used as intended, it protects individuals’ rights to make their own decisions and to create structures that protect their interests, if and when, they are not able to make their own decisions.  This view was aired at the HUK Annual Conference 2022 where I was one of your keynote speakers.  I was honoured to be invited to contribute and enjoyed the lively questioning and debate at that event.

I expect those of you who make HUK what it is, day in day out, teaching, training, taking calls, finding solutions, offering solace, know well that voluntary organisations such as this, fill gaps in statutory services.  What you do is invaluable to the quality of life of many people, not only those with hoarding disorder but also to many professionals trying to do their best in under-resourced services.

The role of medical adviser is a minor one compared with all that the HUK Team offer.  I have attended meetings since 2016.  The first minutes I have saved are from 16th June 2016. There were 16 action points, 14 of them were for Megan!  The other two were for ‘All’.

Together with Satwant,  I review requests from students and researchers to work with HUK.  There were eight of these in 2021, and sevenin 2020, and they go back to 2016.  Usually they are seeking access to our newsletters in order to recruit subjects for their research.  We check that ethics committee consent has been obtained from their academic institutions, that their projects are well referenced with academic papers, and that their ideas will contribute to our understanding of hoarding behaviours.  We ask them to provide us with a summary of their results to be shared in our Newsletters.

Occasionally I am asked doctor-type questions, for instance, about the very confusing nomenclature used in psychiatry and possible causes of acute confusion.

Time has sped by since 2015.  In the seven years that I have been medical adviser, I have learnt so much from everyone at HUK.  It has been a pleasure to contribute when my knowledge and experience may have offered something extra.  As for HUK, you have gone from strength to strength and now have an impressive ‘organisational structure’ and many more employees.  I suspect though that Megan will always be someone who accepts most of the ‘actions’.

I wish you all well, now and in the future.  Your work is invaluable.  My hunch is that hoarding behaviour will never go away completely, but our ways of understanding it and helping when it is unsafe or distressing depend on your skills and dedication.”

Gianetta Rands
15th July 2022.