“Get Togethers” at the Retirement Planning Council (RPCI).
One of the unique features of the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPCI) is that of free lifetime support. Once you have completed a course, you can contact the course leaders at any time afterwards if you have a specific issue relating to your own retirement. RPCI go a bit further. They want to “get together” with past attendees.
Derek Bell, Chief Operations Officer at RPCI, explains what the “get together” initiative is all about. ‘It’s a way for the organisation to continue contact with people who have attended our courses. We want to check in with them in their retirement. We want to see what’s working for them and what isn’t.’
Checking in with past attendees is part of the RPCI’s overall ethos and as such the “get togethers” are a key element. Derek explains that these meetings are, ‘a way of ensuring retirees are not isolated as well as a feedback loop to continuously improve the quality and relevance of the training we’re delivering. Throughout the country we would train about 3,000 people a year.’ While not all the training happens in Dublin, so far, the “get togethers” have only been in the capital.
Derek is happy to outline what a session looks like, ‘”get togethers” are usually at lunchtime or an up to lunchtime kind of thing so typically, eleven to one. It’s very informal; we have a cup of tea: have a chat; have a sit down. We have had about 100 people in total attend so far. Sometimes people like to bring a partner who hasn’t done the training course. We’re very open to partners coming along. It’s been very social.’
In addition, there is a short talk on a topic of interest to those who have retired. At an early session, the talk was about diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Last time, volunteering in retirement was considered with short presentations from charities and groups who welcome volunteers. Derek thinks that a chat about the implications of changes to the Nursing Home Support Scheme (known as the Fair Deal scheme); wills or issues around enduring power of attorney might be the next topic. ‘So, it’s one hour of input with questions and answers and one hour of informal chat and a cuppa,’ adds Derek.
He explains that, ‘anybody who’s been through the course, we target them one year out. We invite them back. We’ll do more “get togethers” if the demand is there. So, at the moment, we’re doing about two a year in Dublin and we plan to do Cork and Galway as well’.
RPCI also have plenty of other ways of keeping in contact with past attendees. They recently revamped their website to make it more useful. Their blog is updated regularly with news and information. They trawl through press and media sites to pick out articles and stories that those who have attended or are planning on attending will find helpful.
The website also highlights personal stories about people who have completed courses with the RPCI. They give some insight about what they found useful and how attending a course changed or improved their approach to retirement.
Retirement is not just about stopping – often it’s about starting. RPCI also offer courses on related topics including: working on in retirement; genealogy and family history; start your own business; get fit, get moving. One of the best features on the website is a database which includes information on a wide variety of topics and areas particularly around lifelong learning which is hopefully something that may spark off a few new ideas.
Planning for Retirement courses and options for the soon-to-be-retiree are still the RPCI’s bread and butter. These are open courses with a maximum of 24 attendees and 1:1 (1:2 if the spouse/partner attends). A recent new initiative that they are keen to promote is the retirement planning weekend. They partnered with Hotel Westport and the next weekend is planned for 15th/ 17th November.
Running from Friday evening through to Sunday lunchtime they are informative, social and fun! The weekends are open to couples and individuals looking to consider the changes that retirement brings, along with making a clear plan for the next stage of living. The weekend courses are somewhat shorter than the normal planning for retirement course – but they still cover the essentials. Sessions will include changes in retirement (identity, routine, relationships); healthy living (diet, exercise, mental health); legal (wills and power of attorney); social welfare entitlements including pension rights & contributory pensions and time planning.
Unlike others who might find the idea of people ringing or emailing with queries as something of a nuisance, Derek insists, ‘we at RPCI welcome it.’ He had thought about using the term alumni or even network to describe what is planned but for the moment, a “Get Together” seems the most accurate description. You just have to do a course to find out more!
Established in 1974, the RPCI is a Registered Charity, a not-for-profit organisation, wholly independent of all financial institutions and with a voluntary board of directors. RPCI is based at 14/15 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2 Ph: 01 478 9471 / www.rpc.ie Courses are held in Dublin and around the country on a very regular basis. Please check the website for more details.