Leonard Cheshire Disability has announced the installation of new innovative communications technology at St Teresa’s in Cornwall, following the award of a major grant from the Hospital Saturday Fund (HSF).
The Eyegaze equipment enables a disabled person to use a computer by tracking tiny movements in their eyes.
The state of the art technology has already enabled Pat Eteen, who lives at St Teresa’s, to communicate with her son Simon, daughter-in-law Celia and granddaughter Madelaine on Skype. Pat developed aphasia after having a stroke. With the help of Eyegaze she can now keep in touch with her family.
Using Eyegaze technology, Pat said: ‘I use Skype to keep in touch with my son, daughter-in-law and eight-year-old granddaughter who live in Canada. It is so nice to see my family on the screen, especially being able to see my granddaughter play the piano! I contact them about once a month and I am hoping that with the new technology I will be able to have greater control and independence when using Skype.’
Before the new equipment arrived Pat had to communicate through letters which was tiring and extremely slow.
Paul Jackson, chief executive of the Hospital Saturday Fund said: ‘I am delighted that the Hospital Saturday Fund is able to fund this very exciting technology at St Teresa’s. The potential is huge and we are honoured to be able to provide this equipment and make such a difference to peoples’ quality of life at St Teresa’s.’
Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability on a visit to St Teresa’s to see the new technology in operation, said: ‘It has been wonderful to see how Eyegaze can transform the lives of disabled people here at St Teresa’s. Today I have seen how Pat can chat to her granddaughter across the Atlantic and how other people at the service can keep in close touch with their families and friends and enjoy social media for the first time. It is so amazing that technical advances beyond what we could have imagined only a few years ago is now — thanks to generous donors — transforming the lives of disabled people in Penzance.’
Eyegaze tech enables users to access the internet, email, and social media, including Facebook and Skype.
Together with the grant from HSF, this amazing equipment was funded by a gift of £13,000 from the will of the late Lamorna Peck who lived at St Teresa’s for 30 years