The Irish Mail on Sunday

Sarah Jane Shiels


(director of Care) Sarah Jane Shiels remembers how terrified her mother was before she went into a hospice. In the end though, her mother met her death with ease.

Sarah Jane is a director of Will Fredd Theatre company and it was that personal experience that prompted the company to put together a performanc­e that draws together the extraordin­ary help palliative care can be.

Called Care, it was first performed in The Project Centre earlier this year. There will be two more performanc­es at the end of this month, one at St Francis Hospice in Raheny, Dublin, where Sarah Jane’s mother died.

‘I think in Ireland we do death very well but we do dying awfully,’ she says. ‘We try showing the stories that you might not come across every day, that the hospice isn’t a scary place.’

The show is about the treatment that is given in hospices and it is aimed at the people who provide that care and the families who benefit from it.

It’s a combinatio­n of music, text and dance, by two musicians and three actors, based on interviews with hospice workers.

‘We show the workers a different view of what they do. The whole hospice idea is to allow people to die with dignity and comfort, having a voice in their treatment, being able if necessary to say they don’t want aggressive treatment.

‘It’s often said that people in hospitals, once diagnosed, become a patient, but when they arrive in a hospice, they become a person again. ’

Kaleidosco­pe Conference, Dublin Castle, Wednesday May 28, 5pm, for people who work in palliative care. St Francis Hospice Raheny, Friday, May 30, 5pm. Open to everyone.

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