A woman who took social services to court, saying a lack of care to help with her multiple sclerosis was “utterly degrading and dehumanising”, has had a £9,500 out-of-court settlement.

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Jan Sutton, 41, took Norfolk County Council to judicial review in June 2011 .

“The care I was receiving from social services in 2010 was utterly degrading and dehumanising. It left me trapped in bed and wanting to die. Taking legal action seemed to be the only way I could preserve my life.”

Ms Sutton, from Norwich, said taking the council to court was the most stressful thing she had ever done and the payout would only go part-way to compensating her for the money she spent topping up her care six hours and 45 minutes a day.

She says she is “severely disabled and very ill as a result of multiple sclerosis”. With no movement in her legs and reduced arm movements she needs help with tasks including going to the toilet. In February 2010 her care agency gave her 24 hours’ notice it would no longer give her support to access her bathroom and the only way she could cope with evenings was to go into debt to pay for three more hours of care every day.

She said: “Only when I increased my care did I realise what it felt like to be a human being again. It was shocking to realise the level of degradation I had become accustomed to and regarded as normal. The thought of going back to that level of care and that feeling of not being human was so awful that I realised that I would be at risk of suicide.”

Following her legal action, social services agreed to increase funding from 50 to 70 hours a week and made a referral to NHS Norfolk asking it to carry out an assessment for continuing healthcare funding. She now receives just over 100 hours of care a week from NHS Norfolk and says it has improved her life immeasurably.

Harold Bodmer, county council director of community services, said: “Our remit is to provide care based on need and we do aim to give people as much choice and control over the care they receive as possible. If people are concerned about the care they receive we’ll work hard to try to find solutions. I am really pleased Ms Sutton is now happy with the care she is receiving arranged by NHS Continuing Care.”

kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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