Impact Services Corporation
The KangaRoom is a lightweight, portable rooming solution that empowers individuals with an added sense of security provided by the perception of privacy that is typically unavailable in the confines of shared spaces. Inspired by nature, the KangaRoom aims to provide a safe and comfortable environment to its occupant(s) much like a Kangaroo's pouch. The units and materials are also very kid friendly.
The KangaRoom has been designed with ease of use and portability in mind. Sitting on top of furniture sliders, KangaRoom(s) may be easily moved from one part of a room to another, making moving and storing this product very simple. Centered on an axis point, the KangaRoom maximizes space according to the confines of any given room, and can be adjusted and/or used in conjunction with other KangaRooms.
Additionally, each rooming section contains storage pouches sewn to its walls, again borrowing from our Kangaroo concept. Here users may stow away personal belongings such as but not limited to: personal hygiene products, towels, shoes, clothing, etc.
Emotional and physical safety is at the heart of trauma informed care. The KangaRoom offers additional levels of physical and psychological safety, which would decrease opportunities for re-traumatization and promote dignity. This personal resting space allows guests to take refuge in an environment they are often unable to control, while maintaining the ability to quickly re-engage with the larger community. Trauma informed polices and processes already in place to manage the overflow space and guest procedures could be maintained, while allowing guests to inform any new policies and practices related to the KangaRoom therefore promoting Trustworthiness, Voice, Choice, Transparency and Empowerment among guests and staff. Contents of pouches can be customized so as to be responsive to the individual family needs regardless of gender, cultural background, religion, and/or family size.
This product has been inspired both by trauma informed care principles and the ever growing necessity to make the most of minimal square footage. The design process was shaped by these values while remaining cost efficient. This unique set of needs, values and circumstances has resulted in a highly original product design. Our team wanted to consider both what immediate families’ needs are as well as what they bring with them when coming into a shelter environment.
Shelters have the potential to trigger feelings of fear and the hypervigilance that often accompany the experience of being exposed to an unsafe or unfamiliar environment The KangaRoom seeks to cultivate physical environments that are private, safe, healing and promote recovery from the implicit trauma that accompanies homelessness. The KangaRoom creates a better sleeping option for individuals and families when the only other option is living without shelter. The KangaRoom both differentiates space and offers options for storage of essential items to living such as clean towels, clothing, diapers, bottles of water, and personal items. Prioritizing choice is a fundamental need in shelter spaces where choices have been diminished simply do to demand and has not been a standard component of the environment. Through the ability to choose how an overnight sleeping accommodation is oriented, families are afforded a level of control which did not previously exist.
The KangaRoom will be ready for use in the Jane Addams Place overflow rooms within one month of design selection. If adopted more widely for use in emergency shelters and other service settings three additional months will be required to establish a larger production process. If the KangaRoom is selected our design team will explore scaling and manufacturing that fits within the mission of our organization (Impact Services Corp) and is consistent with Trauma Informed practices. We would seek to incorporate the employment and training divisions of Impact Services, and we would also seek to include interested human service organizations that serve families seeking shelter and stability. Optimally the production process would take place "in house" utilizing a workforce that that is seeking employment and perhaps has been served by the Jane Walker house or similar facilities.
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?:
Space and Staffing Required:
One adult is capable of moving (unit is 20 lbs.) and setting up (3 minutes) the KangaRoom. When closed for storage with empty “pouches” the Kangaroom is only 4.5 inches deep. The unit stands 6’6” tall and is 8’ wide when folded closed. The Kangaroom can be pushed against any wall that can accommodate the 8’ width so that multiuse spaces are not encumbered. With furniture moving sliders built into the bottom of the finished unit the Kangaroom can be rolled around any space.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?:
The KangaRoom is entirely intuitive and does not require training.
The KangaRoom does not require further funding for basic use once initially implemented. However, the design team envisioned that the KangaRoom “pouches” could be replenished with new goods (e.g. toothbrushes, towels, water, etc.) for each new family seeking shelter. We estimate that in addition to production cost the KangaRoom could be replenished for approximately $40.00. Need for these additional products could serve as a fundraising platform for service organizations. This very tangible donation seems appealing to many people who have limited funds for philanthropic giving but want to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations. The KangaRoom assists to provide one of the most primary elements in the human hierarchy of needs, safe shelter.
The KangaRoom is well suited for and easily implemented in other shelters where larger spaces need to be quickly converted to accommodate individuals and families. Similarly, multiple KangaRoom units could be quickly setup in gymnasiums and similar spaces in cases of emergency. Multiple possible configurations (see attachment “B”) enable users to accommodate families of different sizes or create multiple spaces that allow privacy for multiple individuals or families.
Measuring an improved sense of safety, security, increased comfort, and dignity is difficult. Our team suggests that this is accomplished both qualitatively and quantitatively though a set of open ended questions and Likert type scales (see attachment “C”) posed to staff and residents of the Jane Addams house who utilize the KangaRoom. This questionnaire is entirely voluntary and any resident can choose not to participate. Responses are anonymous. We propose that initial implementation in the Jane Addams House serve as a pilot to identify if this product achieves the goal of creating greater environmental and emotional safety for families in need of shelter. When a family exits the facility or stable shelter/housing is identified a staff person would include in discharge a very brief exit interview that includes the brief questionnaire. The answers will be compiled by the team at Impact into a report that provides a narrative summarizing results and identifying both themes of qualitative answers and quantitative ratings. This report will be compiled after twenty five different individuals or families have utilized the KangaRoom. The collaborative partners in this design challenge will be provided the results.