Inspiring story is told on DVD

STEPHEN PULLINGER It is said that eyes are the windows of the soul and for Jackie Webb that could never be more the case. For with severe learning difficulties and no power of speech, the only way she can communicate her needs and desires and her dislikes and hates is through eye movement and expression.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

It is said that eyes are the windows of the soul and for Jackie Webb that could never be more the case.

For with severe learning difficulties and no power of speech, the only way she can communicate her needs and desires and her dislikes and hates is through eye movement and expression.

By taking the time to interpret Jackie's personal eye "language", specialist carers - helped by her family and friends - have striven to give her a new independent life that only 18 months ago would have seemed beyond even her parents' wildest dreams.

The story of how she has been helped out of a residential home into her own supported living flat, enjoying an active social life with family and friends, has been told on an inspiring DVD that yesterday received its premiere in the War Memorial Recreation Centre, in Acle, near Yarmouth

Jackie, 42, was joined by an audience of carers and other people with learning and physical disabilities to watch the film which is being used to roll out the innovative Knock Knock Who's There project that has transformed her life in just 18 months.

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The joint venture by Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Primary Care Trust was partly inspired by the steely determination of Jackie's parents, Kath and Jack, to achieve a better quality of life for their daughter.

Kent-based consultant Simon Goldsmith, who has been involved from the outset, said the project was based on person-centred planning, striving to give Jackie and her close family and friends choices in important decisions such as how and where she lived.

Calling it Knock, Knock Who's There demonstrated the importance of involving an individual's close circle in such decision-making rather than groups of distant people.

He said: "Although it can be difficult when someone has no speech, it is important to realise 80pc of human communication is non-verbal. We brought together the people who knew her best, her family and friends, and started to map out what makes her happy in life."

Through her eyes, she told them she needed a social life and to move into her own home, and her carers realised she needed to be given a "communication passport" so other people knew how she communicated without words.

Before moving into her two-bedroom flat, in a development run by Milbury and Voyage providing 24-hour care support, she chose the décor. Now she regularly enjoys visits from her parents and friends and when she's not out and about taking part in activities she enjoys, she can spend time at home relaxing.

Her parents, who still live close to their daughter in Norwich, are delighted her involvement in the project will help others.

Her mother said: "With Jackie, the communication is all in the eyes.

"We can see how happy she is now as her eyes are shining.

"She's now living in the absolute best environment for her, and that's what every parent wants for their child, no matter how old they are or what their needs might be."

Karen Bean, assistant community services manager for Norfolk PCT, said the DVD and information pack - which will be distributed to libraries throughout the county - demonstrates how each individual in a person's close circle "brings unique information and experience of their likes, dislikes and needs, taking a holistic approach to helping them get the best out of life".

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