When she is not making her rounds and visiting sick patients and their families at the hospital, Carla Rollandini is working as a self-employed professional and began her endeavor of “Carla Care, Inc.” in 1993. Her inspiration evolved from her daughter who came home and shared stories about how she used to read to senior citizens at the library. After listening to her daughter’s feedback, Rollandini believed she could help people by going into their homes and lending a hand.
Her services include evaluating a person’s living situation, recommending resources and coordination of care, arranging family coordination meetings and providing patient advocacy. She provides direct services and has served as a patient advocate for many.
Rollandini assists elders with decisions that include deciding whether or not to move to a retirement home, helping them with contracts, driving them to various appointments, and instructing them on how to make their homes safer by suggesting the installation and usage of chair lifts, and she contacts the necessary personnel to make it happen.
“Each person is different and has a different story. A lot of people just want you to talk to them every week,” she said. Rollandini has been known to take elderly people to lunch, drive them for a visit with a friend, and escort them to church, a concert, or some other event of their choosing. She took one woman to her Phi Betta Kappa meetings every month. “What makes me different from everybody is that I stay with every person I have. I develop relationships,” Rollandini said.
Though the “Golden Years” are touted as ones to look forward to, people age and develop health conditions or illnesses requiring assistance. “It’s good to have an advocate for decisions,” Rollandini said.
She points out the need for people to focus on what is important and to make plans. “Talk about how do you want the end of your life to look. I try to instill a dose of reality all the time with people. I see myself as coming in and making order out of the chaos — particularly managing the medical needs. A lot of people don’t know what is going on,” she said.
Most elderly people have become handicapped due to a medical condition and, consequently, require assistance of some type. “Being a social worker, I see that as my life vocation. I like to see how I can help people’s lives get better or I can make them more comfortable or even if those are approaching death, I’ve helped the family,” Rollandini said.
Mike Gill and his siblings engaged the services of “Carla Care” for his father who has since died.
“She puts it all together,” Gill said. With Rollandini’s presence and involvement, Gill noted his father was more at ease. “She’s skilled, she’s honest, she’s a great resource,” he said.
“Carla Rollindini is known to me professionally and personally. Although she is a businesswoman, she treats all of her clients and their family members like she would treat her own family — this is, perhaps, the greatest gift she offers. She is the person every family needs when they are trying to provide a chance for their elderly loved one to ‘age in place.’ Carla genuinely loves hearing the life histories of those for whom she cares and treasures the company of those entrusted to her. What she does enriches the lives of elders and offers family members the peace of knowing their loved ones are in very capable hands,” the Rev. Patricia Dickson, the director of pastoral care at Inova Alexandria Hospital, said.
Rollandini also writes legacy books in which she tells the life story of a person. This allows the family to have the memory of their loved one in a book after their death. She wrote one about her own parents.
“Dealing with the death of your parents is finding an appropriate place to put your feelings,” Rollandini said.
Families have engaged her to write the story about their loved ones and, so far, she has written six legacy books.
In many cases, she has been a part of, as she said, “the whole life stage ending.” Having studied Thanatology — the study of death and dying — Rollandini is also able to assist families in dealing with the final stages of life and the difficulties that accompany it.
Karen L. Bune is a freelance writer who also serves as an adjunct professor at George Mason University and Marymount University.