Helen Adeosun knows the challenges senior home care providers face very well. After all, she used to be one herself, just as her mother was.

Helen Adeosun. Photo provided by CareAcademy.
Helen Adeosun. Photo provided by CareAcademy.

“I remember this feeling every single time I showed up to a client’s home: I had very little preparation to help that client,” Adeosun said of seniors receiving home care, which reached 4.9 million in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Caregivers get so little training, I think people would actually be shocked,” she added.

Those insights led Adeosun to found CareAcademy, a Boston-based startup that aims to give senior home care professionals better training, as well as giving them opportunities to climb the career ladder and increasing their earning potential. After going through the Techstars Boston startup accelerator earlier this year, the company last week announced that it has closed a $1.7 million seed round. The lead investors were Rethink Education, Lumina Foundation and Techstars Venture Capital.

CareAcademy currently provides online training in the form of hour-long video courses to more than 50 home care agencies, including Home Instead Senior Care and CareLinx, which pay a licensing fee based on the number of users and types of content accessed. Over 9,700 home care professionals are currently enrolled in courses, which cover things like infection control, nutrition and meal preparation, dementia and fall prevention. Adeosun’s co-founder is Madhuri Reddy, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and founder of the wound healing program at Hebrew SeniorLife.

The new funds will be used to expand CareAcademy’s course offerings and get more home care agencies on the platform. The company’s curriculum is based on state mandates, Medicare requirements and recommendations from home care agencies.

“Caregivers get so little training, I think people would actually be shocked.”

Adeosun said her ultimate goal is to make senior home care a more sustainable profession where people can build their careers and provide a stable workforce. The “bite-sized” nature of the classes, she said, means that people already working full-time jobs can find an easier way to earn enough skills to, for example, become a certified nursing assistant.

The need for a more sustainable workforce is clear. More than 60 million Americans will be over the age of 65 in 2020, and more than 90 percent of them will prefer to stay at home, as opposed to entering a senior care facility, according to the AARP. That will create a need for more than 600,000 new care providers by 2022, according to IBIS World.

CareAcademy has seven employees right now, and it plans to hire three more by the end of the year. Adeosun said she expects to double the company’s headcount next year.

“My commitment to building this platform really comes from wanting to build the ultimate resource as this country is shifting and changing into a graying population,” Adeosun said.