Robinson/Soares a division of Aspire To College, LLC
Interviews of shelter residents have two consistent themes; lack of quiet spaces within the shelters, and the buzz of overhead florescent lights. Robinson/Soares has designed Serenity, light and sound abatement solution to create a physical environment that supports the principles of a Trauma-Informed Approach and Universal Design/Build Environment. Shelters tend to be in physical quarters that are modified for use. The Serenity product consists of hardened fabric covered acoustical panels with inlaid LED and point of reference lighting that are attached to walls eliminating overhead florescent lighting and associated noise.
The soundproofing and acoustical panels are a hybrid that "block" noise from bleeding through a common wall, and "absorb" echoes within the sleeping quarters or “quiet” room. Panels are designed to anchor mechanically direct to a common wall surface and meet all fire code requirements. No construction permits are required. They can also accommodate customization with wall hangings and pictures. The balance of the room is fitted with black-out drapes and rugs covering 75% of the room.
Serenity integrates the 7 Principles of Universal Design/Build Environment developed in 1997 at North Carolina State University, the healthcare Universal Design philosophy of designer Michael Graves, and the six principles of a Trauma-Informed Approach to result in a Trauma-Informed Intervention tool. NCSU’s "Building for Everyone: A Universal Design Approach" provides comprehensive best practice guidance on how to design, build and manage buildings and spaces so that they can be readily accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, size ability or disability.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is described in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV as an anxiety disorder that comprises five major criteria. The criteria most relevant to the underlying predicate for Serenity is the Fourth; one must suffer marked arousal, which can include insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, hyper vigilance, or heightened startle response.
According to a Center for Trauma Recovery manuscript titled “Trauma-Related Sleep Disturbance and Self-Reported Physical Health Symptoms in Treatment-Seeking Female Rape Victims”, several studies have demonstrated that PTSD is a mediating factor in the relationship between trauma exposure and reports of elevated health symptoms in women (Kimerling et al., 2000; Wolfe et al.,1994). According to the Center given the observed relationships between PTSD, particularly hyper arousal symptoms, and health outcomes, and the potential impact of biological alterations associated with a PTSD diagnosis, they hypothesized that sleep disturbance associated with psychological reactions to trauma may be an important predictor of health symptoms.
Serenity seeks to counter the trauma induced sleep, light and sound sensitivity symptoms impacting the homeless shelter population as applicable.
Serenity Light and Sound Abatement Solutions is in review for a concept and utility patent under the name of Aspire To College, LLC the parent company of Robinson/Soares.
The value proposition for Serenity is the integration of Trauma-Informed Approach and Universal Design Build Environment principles for homeless shelters. Historically shelters have grown in an ad hoc manner, focused on locating available secure space. With the advent of trauma-informed approaches, the implementation of the interventions have been more clinical than incorporating the physical building environment.
Creating an environment that mitigates extraneous light and sound is positively impactful on a vulnerable population. Whether integrated into new construction or as a retrofit of an existing site, Serenity is an overdue extension into the physical environment realm of trauma-informed intervention delivery.
If the earlier reference from the National Sleep Foundation, and exit interviews of shelter residents are accurate descriptions, the rate of return on investment will manifest itself clinically, and from a capital improvement calculation.
If selected, a third party evaluation team would be recommended to assess the impact of the implementation of Serenity using Trauma-Informed Approach and Universal Design/Build Environment principles.
Post award, and availability of funding, Serenity could be ready for physical installation within 30 days. Robinson/Soares has an in-house contractor through the parent holding company, but will seek to engage a local MBE/WBE certified PR firm to work in concert with promoting this design and installation endeavor.
Do the production costs decrease as the number of units produced increases?:
Space and Staffing Required:
Technically this is a capital improvement to either a sleeping quarters or a designated space within the shelter. There are no staffing requirements other that case management oversight to determine clinical appropriateness.
Does your product require training of shelter staff to use appropriately?:
Training would be for maintenance staff to address LED lighting and panel cleaning or replacement requirements..
The shelter population is considered a vulnerable/targeted market by the US Department of Treasury, hence the shelter provider is eligible for low interest financing. If there are rental leases subsidized by the local unit of government, then tenant improvement allocations can be financed through Community Reinvestment Act Initiatives and Community Development Financial Institutions, among other sources of funds. Robinson/Soares will work in concert with the provider(s) to access capital either as an individual organizational credit or part of a larger capital improvement pool. If the Direct Provider should chose to engage in capital fundraising, then Robinson/Soares would provide all documentation collateral needed.
The sole purpose of the Serenity product is to provide a sleep quarters or quiet environment that incorporates the principles of trauma-informed approach and Universal Design/Build Environment to meet the needs of shelter residents. Where there are shelters, there are trauma survivors that would benefit from the environment Serenity offers.
Robinson/Soares' parent company launched a similar product for College Dormitory rooms that accommodates students on the Spectrum who were Light and Sound sensitive. Aspire To College LLC, the parent company, is working with Landmark College Institute for Research & Training in Putney, Vermont with focus on Universal Design/Build Environment and ERIC – Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT, where the Managing Director of Aspire to College is a Senior Advisor. A united effort is underway to create the requisite assessment and evaluation tools for this and other Robinson/Soares products in this arena.