In this blog series, “Workforce Edtech – Leading the Job Skills Revolution,” we spoke to some of the founders and leaders here at LearnLaunch who are filling the gaps in workforce and continuing education, while redefining learning beyond traditional degree programs.
As the role of the in-home caregiver becomes a more vital part of the healthcare ecosystem, caregivers require continuing education that gives them the skills they need, when they need it, without disrupting their busy lifestyles. CareAcademy, founded by Helen Adeosun, is answering the call.
In this interview, Helen discussed the reasons why caregivers need to constantly sharpen their skills, how CareAcademy iterates based on feedback, and why caregiving is only recently being seen as an important part of healthcare.
This is part 5 of the Workforce Edtech – Leading the Job Skills Revolution series. Tune in each Tuesday for a new installment of the series. Check out part 1 (LearnBolt), part 2 (TeachersConnect), part 3 (Authess), and part 4 (CourseStorm).
What does CareAcademy do?
CareAcademy is online education for professional caregivers to learn how to give even more excellent care.
Why do you think there has been such rapid growth in alternative/accelerated post-secondary education programs?
I was at a conference recently and we all concluded the future of work is in the mind. Work isn’t just about showing up and using your hands. The future belongs to creators and people who can think creatively. The only way to teach people is through education that prepares them to do more cerebral work. Traditional education has been slow to do this. It can’t rapidly deliver to the needs of a workforce that has to adapt so rapidly.
Only solutions that allow for rapid, iterative learning can meet these needs and train our minds to do the things we need to do.
Why do you think startups are filling the gap in the market for continuing education rather than traditional colleges and universities?
The DNA of a startup is meant to do what I described above. Startups take data from the user base to figure out how to improve their offerings.
Traditional institutions have the mindset that people are seeking them out to do what they’ve always done. But let’s assume we don’t know the best way to teach and we have to change. Part of our success at CareAcademy is that we can listen and learn from our users and figure out better ways to teach them. If the user trusts us to develop the necessary skill sets of the mind, my responsibility is to take what they want to learn and deliver.
When we started, we looked at traditional licensure programs about how we should teach, but we found that it’s not really the best way. So we thought, how do we go to the caregivers to find out the best way to teach them? If caregivers have specific questions, they need something they can digest quickly because they don’t have time to sit in a class for an hour. We need to distill key information so people can digest it in a few minutes. We want people to come back to us so they can continue to learn as they see fit.
39% of caregivers come back to classes because they found it useful. One client of ours that provides training told us that people were coming back to CareAcademy materials of their own free will. It wasn’t mandated. It tells us they find it useful – they’re watching it and learning from it. We never assume we know the learner, we need to keep listening.
How are you overcoming the challenge of personalizing education at scale?
Personalization of education at scale is at the heart of our company. It comes from both the content and the platform. I learned from my previous work of teaching teachers is that adults want flexibility and relevance. We make the content highly relevant for this workforce.
Caregivers are not clinicians, but they’re being entrusted today as almost mini-clinicians. But families sometimes don’t see their caregivers as being legitimate medical experts. That’s why we need to teach them both hard skills (working with clients who have diabetes/Alzheimers) and also how to have the right bedside manner.
It’s not teaching them to administer insulin or write prescriptions. It’s more about how they make the life of a person who suffers from these conditions better, alongside their other medical treatment.
Unlike our competitors, we’re not just trying to teach caregivers as clinicians. We want to teach people how to communicate and work effectively within the whole dynamic of caregiving.
What strategies are you using to attract new students and new clients?
Our industry is very relational. It’s a lot of high-tech and high touch. We go to where our customers and caregivers are – associations, conferences, etc. and build relationships in person.
We also make our offering easily available so people can validate the quality of what we do. We have a two-week free trial for people to try the platform themselves, and we supplement that by going to conferences and sharing our content.
It’s about letting people try before they commit. It’s not try before you buy. With education, it’s a time commitment as much as a financial commitment. We show that we respect their limited time to learn, and we prove that in those initial conversations.
They want to know how well we can teach them. Some people see online education as having poor feedback. We make a lot of effort to get feedback directly from agencies, caregivers, etc. so we know how to adjust our offering. We have so many of stakeholders advocating for us, and they helps us grow our reach.
You’ve indicated in the past that when you started CareAcademy, “a lot was missing from caregiver education.” What was missing before? What did you do to meet those needs?
Those things are still missing: A lot of soft skills and professionalism. Caregivers want to improve their abilities to help their clients. That’s foundational for caregiving.
Right now, the Federal government is validating this. Healthcare in US is value-based now, which means it’s assessed based on the overall quality of the service. The type of care we’re teaching is about quality outcomes. This is groundbreaking in home care because a larger burden falls on the caregivers. They need to care about what they do and be effective at driving measurable outcomes because that’s what they’re being evaluated on.
That means we need to teach caregivers how to drive outcomes, which affects how we teach and measure critical skills. Thankfully, we’ve been building for that since our inception.
The majority of states in the U.S. have low or no requirements for ongoing caregiver training. Do you see a push in these states to increase requirements for continuing education?
Yes. There has been a big shift in even the heavily regulated states like California, Florida, Georgia, and some others. Many states are taking up training considerations for administrators and caregivers. It was shifting for states before, but with Federal reimbursement for services depending on outcomes, they need to be able to show their effectiveness. We need caregivers to provide good outcomes and be able to prove it. This is already happening now.
Why do you think there has historically been so little in terms of a well-defined career ladder for nonmedical caregivers? What are some of the core metrics you’re hoping to establish that will help nonmedical caregivers better communicate their value?
There are several reasons why there hasn’t been a defined career ladder. Whenever you talk of service work, it’s traditionally been considered women’s work. Low-skilled, low-wage service work was traditionally done by women. You had a series of labor requirements – starting with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – where a lot of those standards applied to factories, not service work. That legal and cultural tradition continued to even the last 10-15 years. Home work was not really considered by these labor standards, and intentionally left out women and women of color.
In last 10-15 years, labor activists have pointed out this historic wrong, and have pushed for recognizing this type of work as important. It’s not “women’s work,” this is actual professional work. That’s only been in the last few decades, and lots of labor organizations and employers themselves have been driving it.
The rise of the value-based care model has also played a big role. With 30-40% of the population as older adults, these people impose the greatest costs on the healthcare system. The health system is at risk of going bankrupt. If this populations costs the most and we keep things as it is, where people go to hospitals for all their care needs, things will collapse.
What is the most cost-effective and efficient ways to treat seniors so it’s less expensive for the health system and the family? Keeping older people in the home, and let caregivers and families be the mediators. It’s a beautiful thing – a movement on one side that is legitimating the workforce, and a new healthcare system that is leading to home care as a legitimate and important.
This is leading to the creation of a professional ladder in this homecare workforce, with metrics to determine pay raises and promotions. Employers want ROI. Home care is focused on recruiting and retaining good caregivers, and we drive that. Caregivers want to work for an employer who invest in their professional growth. Employers who can say that they truly do that will attract and retain great talent. We help show that ROI in that caregivers who train with us are recruitable and retainable.
Clinical outcomes are also meaningful for all parties. If you’re looking at client satisfaction, do CareAcademy trainees drive greater outcomes? We’re trying to show that now. We have some great initial metrics. It’s going to take a long time to show that the outcomes lead to increased retention.
Reliable patient outcome data will also take time to gather, and we’re starting to see great metrics coming from our agencies.
This interview was conducted and written by Ideometry, an all-in-one growth marketing agency helping everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies engineer brilliant integrated campaigns, find their ideal audiences, fuel their pipelines, and drive real success.
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