St. Elisabeth: contemporary and with respect for history and religion

Marieke Bouwman

More | Reflective articles

St. Elisabeth: contemporary and with respect for history and religion

Marieke Bouwman

More | Reflective articles

St. Elisabeth is a compact and modern, but also a characteristic care organization for the elderly in Roosendaal. We work on the basis of values inspired by Franciscan spirituality: love, simplicity, effectiveness and detachment.


The Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mariadal in Roosendaal was founded in 1832. In a short time the Congregation founded monasteries, schools and boarding schools. Educating and teaching the youth was the most important work of the Sisters. In 1927 they founded St. Elisabeth, where sick and elderly fellow sisters were lovingly cared for and nursed. Since 2000 St. Elisabeth has also been open to people outside of the Congregation who need care and/or nursing.


In the former monastery, with its beautiful gardens and atmospheric chapel, history and modern life are united in a special way. The monastery was completely renovated in 2011 into a modern residential care centre. There is room for 130 residents for care and nursing (in individual care apartments, group homes, and individual one-room apartments for restorative care and palliative care). There are also 66 rental apartments available. We have all the expertise regarding elderly care in house. Not only in the field of (para)medical expertise, such as a specialist in geriatrics, psychologist, physiotherapist and palliative nurse, but also in the field of well-being. The exercise specialists, the mental health practitioner, a broad wellness team and a music therapist take care of the well-being of the residents. Of course, our own kitchen, laundry, cleaning service and reception also make an important contribution to this.

Our core values

Since a few years we have explicitly mentioned the Franciscan values of the Congregation of Mariadal as our own core values. In doing so, we give the values a new charge, so that they are preserved for the future. We explain these values as follows:

– Love: good care comes from the heart. By really being there for others, we make the difference on a daily basis, from whatever function.

– Simplicity: St. Elisabeth wants to make things as simple as possible for residents. We are an organisation without fuss.

– Effectiveness: by this we mean the effect of our actions. To what extent do we contribute to the well-being of residents? And: we support and stimulate residents as much as possible in their self-reliance and togetherness.

– Detachment: The residents are in their final phase of life. A phase in which life issues often surface. Emotions such as pride and satisfaction can go hand in hand with mourning and regret. We are aware of this and treat it with respect. For employees, detachment means the art of letting go: of certainties and old ways of working, and being open to change.

Employees, volunteers and residents always respond very positively to these values. The core value ‘detachment’ is always particularly appreciated, especially because this core value is so unique and special. You need an explanation in order to understand what exactly is meant by this. As a result, this value often sticks out more than other, more common values.

People often indicate that they recognise the values in daily practice. We give shape to this in different ways:

  • When recruiting and selecting employees, the core values are always explicitly mentioned. New employees are among others, interested in St. Elisabeth because of the core values, among other things. In these times of enormous labour shortages, it helps us to attract the right employees.
  • In the familiarisation process of new employees and volunteers, an introductory meeting explains the core values: where do they come from, and what do they mean for daily work?
  • All policy documents and job descriptions refer to our core values; they form the basis of everything we develop.
  • In proportion to the number of residents, we have a large group of welfare workers and spiritual care takers; precisely because we consider spiritual welfare so important.
  • We offer employees a great deal of say, and expect everyone to do their bit for the well-being of the residents from their own role. The organisation is flat (simply) organised , with a lot of autonomy for the (care) professionals, which means that a limited number of managers is needed.
  • Our ‘golden rules of conduct’, which apply to all employees, volunteers, residents and visitors, start with the four core values.
  • If residents wish to make use of the daily celebrations in the chapel, the care is organised in such a way that this is made possible.
  • The Christmas celebration with staff starts in the atmospheric St. Elisabeth Chapel. That always gives this celebration a very special touch.

In addition, the core values help us to make strategic choices. For example, we recently decided to develop a palliative unit because – precisely on the basis of our core values – we have a lot to offer to this vulnerable target group.

Connection with the Congregation(s)

The cooperation with the Franciscan Sisters of Mariadal is intensive. Traditionally both organisations have been closely linked. The Sisters play an important role in living the core values. Not only on a personal level, but also, for example, by contributing to the introductory meeting for new employees and volunteers. They were also actively involved in drawing up the ‘golden rules of conduct’. However, the number of sisters is steadily decreasing, which raises the question of how we maintain the core values in the long term, even when the sisters are no longer there. Soon we will start a joint workgroup to make a plan for this together.

Besides the Congregation of Mariadal we also work intensively together with two other Congregations. In 2016 seven sisters of the Congregation Charitas (Roosendaal) came to live in St. Elisabeth. Part of the building was rebuilt for this purpose, so that they could be housed together. Since 2017 we also work together with the Congregation St. Anna in Oudenbosch. Every day we deliver the warm meals and every week the laundry. Some sisters with intensive care needs have moved from St. Anna to St. Elisabeth.

If other congregations are interested in a possible collaboration with St. Elisabeth, or have questions about this article, please feel free to contact us.

About the author

Marieke Bouwman

Marieke Bouwman is the director of the nursing home Sint Elisabeth in Roosendaal. This nursing home was founded by the Franciscan sisters of Mariadal. Sint Elisabeth has chosen to integrate the Franciscan ideals of the sisters in as many elements and on as many levels as possible. The result is highly appreciated by clients and staff alike.

St. Elisabeth │ Wouwseweg 21 │ 4703 BL Roosendaal │ 0165 592 400 │