Family donate ground breaking technology to Foyle Hospice

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The family of an acclaimed local artist have donated ground breaking technology to the Foyle Hospice.

The children the late Sheila McClean, who passed away in 2016 after a short illness, were keen to donate something to the hospice as an expression of gratitude for the excellent care she received there.

A native of Moville, Mrs McClean was a member of the Royal Ulster Academy and was highly acclaimed for her artwork, particularly her landscapes.

She was famed for her beautifully evocative landscape paintings of the sea, mountain, hill and bogland of her native Inishowen.

A former Head of Art at both Thornhill College and St. Brecan’s Boys’ Secondary School, Mrs. McClean exhibited at top venues including the US Embassy and the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery in Dublin.

In addition to being a celebrated painter, she was also very active in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s with her late husband, Dr Raymond McClean.

During her care, Mrs McClean was able to oversee the planning of a retrospective of her full life’s artwork from her hospice bed and travelled to Moville to view the wonderful exhibition with family and friends shortly before her passing.

Mrs. McClean’s family, daughter Sheila O’Brien and Sean McClean, were inspired by the film “It’s Not Yet Dark,” which tells the story of a talented young Irish film maker with ALS (Motor Neurone Disease), as he embarks on directing his first feature film through the use of his eyes and eye gaze technology.

In consultation with hospice staff, it was decided to invest in this technology to offer increased control and independence to people with Motor Neurone Disease attending the Foyle Hospice.

The Tobii Dynavox eye gaze system provided by Safe-care technologies (Cork) was recently installed and the hospice may now be one of the first in Ireland to support patients with such technology.

The assistive technology can be extremely helpful to those patients suffering from a chronic illness that significantly impairs their physical ability and speech.

It consists of a tablet and eye-tracking device with a special software package.

It allows patients with communication difficulties to continue to express their thoughts and needs to those around them as well as maintain access to the internet, social media and e-mails and, as a result, reduces their sense of isolation.

It also allows patients to control their environment such as adjusting their bed, switching on the TV or a fan and being able to call for a nurse, leading to increased independence.

The Foyle Hospice has adapted one of its bedrooms with the equipment.

However, it is portable and has also been used in the day hospice and early feedback from patients and their families has been very positive