Palace Gardens Interns (from left): Christine Dorsainsville (23) and Justin Sisson (22) and Jonathan Puerto (17).

Palace Gardens Interns (from left): Christine Dorsainsville (23) and Justin Sisson (22) and Jonathan Puerto (17).

Three student-interns at The Palace Gardens, an assisted living and memory care community in Homestead, are gaining invaluable experience through their day-to-day interactions with residents.

Christine Dorsainsville (23) and Justin Sisson (22) attend Florida International University and are studying recreational therapy, and Jonathan Puerto (17) is a student at MAST Academy, enrolled in the school’s medical program.

They’ve been participating in The Palace’s internship program for a semester, which is about 3-4 months, and working with residents in the memory care neighborhood.

According to Memory Care Activity Director Jennifer Almodovar, CTRS, the program offers the type of experience that goes far beyond the classroom.

“We supervise the students and help them practice the proper techniques working with people with dementia,” she said. “We also encourage the interns to learn more about each resident and take the time to listen to their stories.”

While learning how to deal with their dementia, the students are encouraged to spend time with the residents and accompany the residents on weekly outings.

Almodovar says The Palace Gardens schedules trips to places where residents can feel connected and comfortable and the interns play a huge help in providing a change of scenery.

To help residents lessen their agitation during sun-downing in the late afternoon and early evening, the students have learned how to give soothing aromatherapy hand massages.

Sisson taps into musical talents by playing the violin and enjoys providing relaxing music.

As part of their on-the-job training, the interns also learn how to plan the activities that are part of the monthly calendar, including The Palace Gardens’ monthly family and friends party.

The intern program is considered a win-win for both the students and The Palace.

“We’re hoping to find future employees from the internships while giving the students work experience to help them when they graduate,” added Almodovar.

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