Lisaard House / Innisfree House

Sheila O’Donovan

Founder of Lisaard House

March 1, 1937- April 27, 2019

In 1996, Sheila was approached by Dr. Charmaine Jones to discuss the philosophy of hospice. With the encouragement of Mrs. Margaret Anderson, (Anderson House) and the support of a group of dedicated nurses and community members, Sheila began the process of funding and building the first free-standing residential hospice in the Waterloo Region.

On August 1, 1978, the organisation was given Charitable status, and on July 15, 2000 Lisaard House welcomed its first resident and Sheilas dream became a reality.

In Sheilas own words, without the dedicated team of professional staff, and an equally dedicated group of volunteers, with their gifts of time and skills, Lisaard House would be an empty shell.

From the beginning, it was evident that there was an inadequate number of hospice palliative beds for the region.

Sheila suggested that, when funds were sufficient, plans for another hospice should be discussed.

In 2013, the building of another hospice was approved by the  Board of Directors, plans were put in motion, and a capital campaign was launched. Sheila was an integral member of this committee and, in July 2015, Innisfree Hospice welcomed its first resident.

Sheila was a pillar of the community and was a strong supporter of many charitable organisations, but her greatest accomplishment was ensuring that those in need of palliative end-of-life care were given an option of where to take their final journey. Her dream of a tranquil, home-like setting with devoted staff and volunteers continues to be the mission of Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice today.

Sheila will be deeply missed by all whose lives she touched, but we will take solace in the fact that her life was truly well lived.

Sheila Was There – a tribute

“When a calming, quiet presence was all that was needed, Sheila was there.

In the mystery and loss of life, Sheila was there.

When a silent glance could uplift a resident, family member or friend, Sheila was there.

At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained, Sheila was there.

When the situation demanded a swift foot and sharp mind, Sheila was there.

When a gentle touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed, Sheila was there.

In choosing the best one from a family’s “Thank You” box of chocolates, Sheila was there.

To witness humanity; its beauty, in good times and bad, without judgment, Sheila was there.

To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope and support, Sheila was there.”

-The Nightingale Tribute Reading