Madison Valley Manor Administrator Darcel Cook said the award is a great honor not only to Canterbury, but for the nursing home and Madison County too.
“I have been in long-term care for almost 20 years and did not realize that Directors of Nursing like Christine even existed,” Cook said. “She epitomizes commitment to caring and Madison Valley Manor is very fortunate to have her on our team.”
Canterbury says she really did not know anything about living in a small town or being in Montana when she moved to Ennis from San Francisco, but since being employed at MVM Canterbury has become an integral part of the nursing home and the local community as well. She previously worked in a hospital, but said she quickly realized she was not equipped to work in the emergency room and did not want to be the only RN in the building while the on-call doctor was up to half an hour away. Devastated that career path was not going to work for her, Canterbury begrudgingly looked into other options including work at the nursing home.
She tells a story of riding in the car with her husband, a gourmet chef, and telling him, “If I have to work at the nursing home, then you have to work at Dairy Queen.”
Employed at MVM since 2008, Canterbury has been a part of changes and improvements at the nursing home. She boasts that MVM had a deficiency free survey in 2012 and that state surveyors were extremely complimentary of the building. The surveyors told her that the residents are happy to be there and like where they live. Five years ago, MVM had lost its ability to train CNAs because of poor survey results. Canterbury and the nursing team have been able to reduce citations until they achieved their goal of no tags. She adds that MVM staff strives to be survey ready every day, as that is their standard of care. Madison Valley Manor is a non-profit, governmental building that is backed by the taxpayers to provide care for an average of 25 residents.
Canterbury said she was shocked and saddened by the lack of alternative/complimentary medicine that took place at MVM when she first began, so she changed that despite the initial challenge. Over the past few years she has instituted an alternative medicine program which includes hot and cold therapy, rice bags, massage, essential oils, herbal teas, herbal medicine, music, stretching, breathing and vitamins all on a limited budget.
“Christine is very open minded and is more than willing to give alternative medicine its due,” Cook said. “She realizes that what works for one resident may not for another. She believes that all options should be presented enabling the resident and their family to make the most informed decisions about their healthcare.”
Canterbury graduated from the University of Massachusetts and Tulane School of Public Health. She is also a certified dementia practitioner and is actively working on her Montana geriatric certification through the University of Montana. The firsthand knowledge Canterbury gained about dementia medication therapy compounded with the startling statistics of antipsychotic medication mishaps has lead the MVM pharmacy review committee to recommend to eliminate more than half of the psychotropic medications.
Madison Valley Manor has about 50 employees in its homelike environment. Canterbury said employee satisfaction is the backbone to excellent resident care while the staff’s strength lies in its accountability and commitment to customer care and service.
“We are constantly improving, making adjustments and changes based on resident and family needs,” Canterbury said. “The administrator (Cook) and I are very involved on a day-to-day basis. This empowers our staff and ensures that our high expectations are being upheld. We are staunch resident advocates and truly believe in resident centered care as a multi-disciplinary team.”
The small size of MVM allows for exceptional interpersonal relations with residents and staff, according to Canterbury. She makes it a point to say good morning to each resident every day she is there. She also refills their coffee or helps them eat their meals. Canterbury said the time she spends with residents helps her better understand their needs and how their health beliefs will affect their plan of care. Cook said Canterbury’s positive attitude, enthusiasm and dedication have rubbed off on staff members who truly believe that residents come first.
Canterbury was a Madison County volunteer hospice nurse for seven years and is a current member of the Madison Valley Manor Auxiliary. Cook said the more members of the Ennis community she meets, the more she is told how fortunate she is to have Canterbury on her staff.
“She is highly respected for her knowledge as a nurse and her caring demeanor. Her years as a volunteer hospice nurse still lead members of the community to call her for advice when they need care at home,” Cook said. “The Madison Valley Manor Auxiliary knows they can depend on her for suggestions on what they can do to make the lives of our residents better.”
Geriatrics is important and very relevant to the world today, Canterbury said. She said that she and her staff want to change the perception of the nursing home and show people that it can be a place where someone can go to live and receive excellent healthcare close to home and family. Comfort and quality of life is her goal for all residents, especially those nearing the end of their life. Through staff and family education her staff has begun to realize that it is a privilege to care for people in their last days.
“We have come a long way and I continue to see a very bright future for this nursing home.” Canterbury said. “I can now see that many things are possible when you surround yourself with like minded people who have the residents’ best interests at heart.”