The doors at the Franciscan Villa in Syracuse, New York, were heavy.
The hefty doors were difficult to open and close, especially for Sisters using a cane, walker or wheelchair. And while every detail at the new home region house for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities was designed to build community, the closed doors were standing in their way.
Sometimes, simple fixes can make a big difference.
Thanks in part to a 2015 grant from SOAR!, the Sisters of St. Francis were able to install magnetic door systems in each Sister’s bedroom.
Because they can be quickly released by a remote switch, the 96 magnetic door holders allow Sisters to safely keep their heavy, fire-resistant doors open without breaking code.
The magnetic door holders also offer staff quick access to Sisters who may need help.
“The magnetic door openers are so much safer for the Sisters. They don’t have to struggle any more trying to get in and out of their rooms. When we provide care, it is so much easier now that the doors can remain open,” said Ashley, an aide at the residence.
“…Some Sisters are not able to use the pull cord in their rooms. It’s so nice to quietly check on a Sister who may be sleeping or resting. We (aides) are very grateful.”
Most of all, the new set-up helps foster community; with their doors open, sisters feel more connected to each other.
“I am very grateful that I can leave my bedroom door open. Having the door open gives us all greater mobility and independence,” said Sister Julienne, who depends on a rolling walker to get around.
“Now you can go by a sister’s room and greet her! This is especially nice for some of our Sisters who are ill and need to spend more time in their rooms. The door openers have been the greatest gift that our Sisters have received.”
With the changes, the Sisters feel safer and less isolated. They’re building a community in their new home.
“Providing our aging sisters a safe, age-appropriate home is a great joy,” wrote general minister Sister Roberta Smith, OSF, in a letter to SOAR!. “Thank you for partnering with us to care for their urgent need.”