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We need to rethink our attitude to ‘family home’ – Brendan Courtney to tackle retirement in new show



Brendan Courtney

Brendan Courtney

Brendan Courtney

When you're in your thirties and forties and life is a blur of career, saving, mortgages (or the battle to get one), and possibly a baby or child or two, thinking about retirement is pretty low on many people's list of priorities.

However, it's a crisis in the making as many of us hurtle towards our older years without adequate preparation and planning and it's an issue presenter Brendan Courtney will tackle head-on in his new series, We Need to Talk About Retirement.

It comes on the back of his previous documentary, We Need to Talk About Dad, which charted his family's struggles to get appropriate home care for his father Frank after he was left paralysed by a stroke.

It highlighted the problems with the government’s Fair Deal scheme which provides funding for nursing home care but not for care in a person’s own home, something which is changing as a result of that programme.

After it aired on RTE the government announced a public consultation on home care.  The Consultation on Home Care Services is the first step towards establishing a statutory home care scheme.

Brendan (46) will address its progress in We Need to Talk About Retirement.  He'll also take a look at retirement from various perspectives, including his own.

"Really it's looking at my generation and how ill prepared we are for successful aging," he says.

The programme also ties in to Brendan's other series, The Crowded House, which highlights the struggle of many adult children to leave their parents' home and find a place of their own to rent or buy in the current prohibitive rental and sales market.

"This Crowded House shows us how so many people of my generation haven’t been able to buy a house," says Brendan. 

"They don’t have what our parents aimed for which is some sort of family legacy, some sort of stability.  Our parents aimed to buy a family asset and hopefully some day they’d be mortgage free and live there. 

"But now there is a generation of people who haven’t been able to do that.  And they often don’t have pension plans.  The State pension will have moved to 80 by the time they retire."

Brendan will compare Ireland's approach to retirement to that of other countries and will focus on Ireland's attitudes to the 'family home'.

"I believe one of the small parts of the solution is to rethink the family home," he says.  "People should be thinking about the family home in terms of multi-generational usage."

He references The Abhaile Project, a charity founded by Michelle Moore and Dermot Bannon, which aims to reconfigure family-sized homes in a way that can meet the homeowner's needs whilst also creating a new rental unit within the house.

"It's fascinating," says Brendan.  "You can build the house into two apartments or whatever you want to do with it to accommodate more people."

On the last series of This Crowded House, one of the couples featured built a 'granny flat' at the back of their house in which their young adult daughter and her boyfriend could live, a move which Brendan describes as 'genius'.

"They had the room to do it so they built a one bed flat," he says.  "The parents were only young and they said when the kids had finished with it they’d move in there.  They’d love to retire to Spain so they could commute and have the granny flat for themselves and rent out the main house as income. 

"It’s a genius idea."

He adds, "There are other options too.  People are selling the family home and moving in to small apartments or secure living and they can pay their rent from here to eternity and still have a pack of money to play with, which is also a great idea.

"It's really about addressing our attitudes towards retirement and looking at our options, because there are options."

We Need to Talk About Retirement is currently in development.  Air date TBC.

Online Editors