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Woman demanding 50 hours of care went to The Wanted concert

The High Court has ordered Plymouth Council to provide a full regime of care for a morbidly obese woman who claims to need help getting out of bed, but who attended on her own a pop concert in April last year.

16 February 2012

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In a preliminary hearing, Judge Stephen Males QC acknowledged there was “complete disagreement” between the woman and the council over the level of her care needs, according to a report in The Telegraph. However, he said the council’s assessment of the woman’s requirements was “at least arguably unlawful” and ordered Plymouth to put in place a regime to cater for her “immediate and urgent” needs pending the full hearing of her judicial review challenge, which is scheduled for May.

The ruling means the council must, at least temporarily, lay on support workers to help the woman wash herself, cook and clean her flat and to accompany her to the shops.

Lawyers for the woman argued that the council must also provide staff to accompany her to the gym or weight management classes and when “she goes to a disco on Friday nights”. Her barrister, Irena Sabic of Garden Court Chambers, said the woman was “in desperate need of support” and accused the council of failing to lawfully assess the woman’s community care needs and provide the help she requires to have a reasonable quality of life.

The woman says she needs up to 50 hours-a-week of care, but Plymouth Council disagrees, insisting her worst enemy is her own “dependency” on the state. The council believes that she can do far more for herself than she thinks and too much publicly-funded care will actively harm her.

Lawyers for the council acknowledged the genuineness of the woman’s “subjective” beliefs about the level of care she needs, but they argued:

• Despite her plea that she cannot use a washing machine or tumble drier without help, she is able to operate “far more complex equipment” - including a computer and games console.

• She has proved herself able to buy alcohol, cigarettes and IT equipment - while claiming that “extreme paranoia” prevents her going out to buy food unaccompanied.

• Her difficulties in getting out of bed are due to a “lack of motivation”.

• She managed to attend, by herself, a The Wanted concert in April last year, while claiming that she could not walk to her local shops or go out in public without a chaperone.

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