Hi people, I hope you’re staying healthy in every way. I’m Spiffy, an interplanetary journalist talking to the coolest entrepreneurs who are making waves in healthcare. Today I’m talking to Helen Adeosun, Founder and CEO of CareAcademy.
Spiffy: Helen! It’s great to see you. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing?
Helen: You too, Spiffy. Well, this year has brought disruption across all industries, but especially within healthcare for older adults. My company, CareAcademy, is a home care and home health workforce empowerment platform upskilling and preparing workers for the growing elder care market and home care model. We have an ambitious moonshot of certifying one million direct care workers by 2023 to help combat the caregiver shortage and provide quality care for seniors.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do this?
Helen: Historically, society has viewed and compensated direct care workers in a way that doesn’t equate to their true value. We are at the forefront, advocating to raise the profile of the profession by increasing accessibility for training, making it easy for caregivers to “upskill” and continue their education over time to better serve clients and advance their careers. In doing so, we are also raising greater awareness of the incredible value these workers bring to individuals and families.
Spiffy: How does CareAcademy make the world a more equitable place?
Helen: As layoffs due to COVID-19 took hold, we launched our Future of Work is Home Care initiative, partnering with industry-leading organizations such as the Home Care Association Of America and Kairos to provide a pathway for displaced workers into a career in-home care. As part of the initiative, aspiring caregivers in any state are enrolled to take classes, and after reaching a competency we then match these candidates with home care agencies for work.
Spiffy: You really sprung into action to respond to the crisis! What milestones have you reached as a result of your response to COVID-19?
Helen: On March 20, we launched a COVID-19 class for direct care workers to prepare them to perform critical frontline work during the pandemic and access relevant, reliable information about the virus. In the first 10 days of the class being launched, nearly 9,000 individual caregivers were certified and in April, over 14,000 more individuals took the class. To date over 35,000 certificates have been awarded through our class.
Spiffy: That’s quite a big group of people you’ve certified! But I’m sure this journey hasn’t been all smooth sailing. When have you faced failure? How did you overcome it?
Helen: Back when I was a teacher, my first year of teaching was a struggle. A mentor teacher came up to me and said, “Grow through it, make it through this year and commit yourself to make it work.” Over the summer, I learned more about teaching as a craft and found ways that were authentic to teaching my kids, and measured insights throughout the next school year. The results of both years were night and day. The point of failure reminds me of what is at stake and who is at stake, the lives of learners and their future.
Spiffy: What’s something you’ve learned unexpectedly?
Helen: I’ve learned the importance of having the room to think, especially with peers. In the early days of the company formation, you’re doing everything, and you’re a whirling dervish of getting things done. Soon, you start finding places you’re no longer useful in the day-to-day. More importantly, the company increasingly needs someone to point out the company’s North Star. I speak with entrepreneurs and those behind and ahead of CareAcademy to better understand what I am missing and what’s next.
Spiffy: Having a clear mind is key to learning from your situation. Just like when you were a teacher.
Helen Adeosun, CEO and Founder of CareAcademy, has had a career in driving outcomes for adult learners and has been listed as one of Fortune’s 2020 40 Under 40 in Health. She holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and an EdM. from Harvard University. (Nominated by Techstars)