BRE release children's book on helping elderly relatives with dementia

BRE release children's book on helping elderly relatives with dementia

Coinciding with Dementia Action Week, "A Home To Remember" helps children understand how adaptations in the home can help elderly relatives with dementia.

BRE launches book to help children better understand how adaptations in the home can help elderly relatives with dementia

World leading building science centre BRE is publishing a children’s book to explain the effects of dementia to young relatives of those with the condition. Coinciding with Dementia Action Week (20 – 26th May), “A Home to Remember” follows the story of a young boy and his grandmother, and the adaptations the family is making to her property to make her feel more comfortable. The book is based on a dementia-friendly home called ‘Chris and Sally’s House’, which was converted and opened last year by BRE at its Innovation Park in Watford.

The book will be sent to schools local to BRE and is also available to read online. The book, which has been illustrated by Sarah McMenemy, explores how dementia can impact elderly relatives from the perspective of a young child.  Serving an educational purpose, the book explains the changes being made to the grandmother’s property, all of which are implemented in ‘Chris and Sally’s House’. The adaptations have been shown to support the wellbeing of people with dementia. Primarily, the book highlights the importance of increased natural lighting, walking support to encourage activity and creating good lines of sight around the property to assist in navigation.

‘Chris and Sally’s House’ was opened in 2018 and is aimed at helping educate housebuilders, carers, healthcare professionals and relatives on how to better support those living with dementia. The design is geared to help people with dementia remain at home for longer than in a normal home, thus dramatically improving quality of life and reducing the cost of care to the state and relatives.

Dementia care costs families around £18 billion a year and affects about 850,000 people in the UK[1]. The figure is expected to rise to more than one million in the UK by 2025, and two million by 2051. Two-thirds of the cost of dementia is paid by those who suffer from the condition and their families. This is in contrast to other conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, where the NHS provides care that is free at the point of use.

The two storey, 100sqm Victorian house caters for different types and stages of dementia, and is aimed at allowing those affected by dementia to live independently by addressing their day-to-day needs. The upper floor of the home has been adapted for the more advanced stages of dementia. The building design has been developed around the needs of two specific personas (or avatars), Chris and Sally. The design narrative describes how the features of the building have been adapted to support Chris and Sally as they remain in their home. The prototype is supported by short films, created by Loughborough University, detailing how dementia affects Chris and Sally on a good, average and bad day, with different actors re-creating the different stages of dementia.

The dementia-friendly converted terrace house includes:

  • Clear lines of sight and colour-coded paths through the home that help guide people towards each specific room
  • Increased natural lighting, which is proven to help people stay alert during the day and to sleep better at night
  • Automatically controlled natural ventilation to provide good indoor air quality
  • Noise reduction features, to reduce stress
  • Simple switches and heating controls, and safety sensors in high risk areas such as the kitchen
  • Homely, simple and familiar interior design to help promote rest and relaxation

The Dementia Home project has been designed by HLP Architects, and is based on the ‘design for dementia principals’ previously developed by Dr Rob McDonald (Liverpool John Moores University) and Bill Halsall (HLP Architects). Moving forward, the home will also be used to assist Loughborough University’s ongoing research into how the features are used, with a view to further improving ways to support homeowners with dementia. BRE has partnered with a variety of other companies to create the home.

Director of BRE Innovation Parks, Dr. David Kelly comments, “We hope that this book will be a helpful resource to schools and families who often struggle to explain the impact of dementia to young children, and in particular how that might affect their ageing relatives.

“Chris and Sally’s House is open year-round to members of the public who would like to further explore the adaptations which can be found in the book.”

‘Chris and Sally’s House’ is open to members of the public year-round during normal working hours. To book a visit, please call +44 (0)333 321 8811 or email

For further press information please contact: BRE’s press office on or +44 (0)1923 664455.


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Dementia Home partners:

Dulux Trade:
Extra Care Charitable Trust:
HLP Architects:
Ideal Standard:
John Lewis:
Liverpool John Moores University:
Loughborough University:
Symphony Group:

About BRE

BRE is a world leading building science centre. Our clients use our sustainability, safety and security services, the BRE Academy and our Innovation Centres, to deliver on their social, environmental and economic goals.

\We are committed to developing knowledge on every aspect of the built environment and we set the standards for the way buildings, homes and communities are made to keep people safe, protect the environment, make buildings affordable and to create places where people want to live, work and play.

[1] Currently, the average cost of care** can be between £30,000 - £40,000 per annum. Creating environments which allow people to live independently at home for longer could save a significant amount. That money could instead be channelled into research that alleviates the condition and reduces the emotional stress to the individual.”

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