Feargal Duignan has extensive history in the technological sector, from working in enterprise, cloud storage services, business intelligence and financial services.
Having worked in successful start-ups for over 20 years, Feargal transitioned his attention to looking at ways to improve the lives of people and better society. “I wanted to look at a particular problem that was big enough that we could make an impact and really scale into,” he says.
That’s how PacSana was born. In this month’s Why Dún Laoghaire edition we speak to Mr Duignan to hear how his company is improving the lives of those in our society.
PacSana’s goal is to support our elderly citizens in their own homes
As a result of speaking to industry leaders in the homecare services industry and their clients, Feargal identified that a lack of resources in the sector was becoming a problem. Such as, a lack of care givers to match demand required – and that’s where PacSana technology comes in and fills that gap.
“We provide insights into how individuals are doing in their own home. That’s our mission, that’s our goal, to support our elderly people, to live as long as possible in their own homes,” Mr Duignan explains.
When it came to designing the product, Feargal and his team sought help and feedback from the homecare industry, which ultimately informed how the product would look and operate.
He explains: “It had to be light, discrete, it had to be wearable in two senses; it had to be able to be worn 24-7 and have a battery life of at least six months.”
So, what did the Pacsana team design? Duignan tells us: “We designed a solution that was light and wearable, that is very comfortable and can be worn 24-7 and doesn’t need to be removed to be charged. It connects to mobile and internet gateways within the home.”
The data that is collected from the wearable device is used for two things: to create visualisations on an app that allows people to have a real-time check in where they can see how things are going with their loved ones, but it is also used to see historical information that can be used to identify key trends in a person’s care. Ultimately the product helps inform care plans and helps professionals and family carers decide how best to care for individuals.
This product offered by PacSana brings modern technology and innovation into the homecare services with the sole aim of creating a better experience and care for our elderly citizens and their families.
“PacSana uses technology at its best, to be sympathetic and supportive of care companies and family carers that are trying to support the elderly in their own homes.”
Increasing the independence of our senior citizens, not monitoring them
Duignan reveals there are companies with a similar technology-driven products being offered to caregivers and services similar to PacSana. However, what makes PacSana stand out is their awareness for the technology not to be intrusive on the user or in anyway alter their day-to-day lives.
He explains: “Instead of our simple wearable option, other companies may install technology such as door sensors and various other equipment in the home.
“There’s a reason we don’t do that. There’s a privacy overhead that we are very aware of, but a simplicity aspect too; we can have our solution set up in a home in under four minutes, so it is very non-disruptive and they are carer deployable.”
There’s no place like Dún Laoghaire to do business in my opinion!
“It’s a great town. It has everything as far as I’m concerned. It has a great range of services, so if we need to get access to kit for our business or need to move anything about, it’s super,” says Feargal
Dún Laoghaire’s top notch transport links also provide Feargal’s colleagues with a variety of options to get into work each day, as he explains while he lives locally, “some of the team commute to work on the train while some come on their bikes thanks to the newly installed cycle lanes. The town is just really accessible”.
In what can only be seen as a testament to our public transport connectivity, Mr Duignan explains our town “feels much more closer to the city centre than it is”.
Feargal thanks Digital HQ, saying the organisation has been a great support since their inception. Digital HQ is a social enterprise that converts vacant historic buildings in town centres into digital growth hubs. These hubs work with the local community to test and trial digital tools to help rural localities attract remote knowledge workers, home buyers, shoppers and visitors to their area.
He keenly stresses how important it is for local businesses to support each other and says he tries as much as possible to spend his money in the area and contribute to the growth of the local economy.
There are plenty of supports available in Dún Laoghaire town to help businesses succeed
Feargal explains how the supports available to businesses in our town can make a difference to start-ups, saying: “The Local Enterprise Office were very supportive for PacSana in its early days, which was very helpful, in terms of financial support to us which was very beneficial to us.”
He says he took part in Enterprise Ireland’s ‘New Frontiers’ programme in IADT Dún Laoghaire, which is the national entrepreneur development programme for early-stage start-ups. It is based in 16 campus incubation centres across the country and is supported locally by the Local Enterprise Office in Dún Laoghaire.
As the business continues to grow, Mr Duignan explains how the business has now outgrown the supports of LEO due to its sheer size and is now supported by Enterprise Ireland, which is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets.
So, what’s next for PacSana?
“We have growth on our minds in a very serious way,” teases Duignan. “As much as it is humanly possible we want to stay in Dún Laoghaire.”
“It’s a really exciting period for us,” Feargal concludes.
PacSana is just one example of many companies that have established themselves in Dún Laoghaire and grown – be the next and make our town the location for your business!