Care Home Closures

Part of Question for Urgent Oral Answer — Health, Social Services and Public Safety – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 30th November 2015.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 3:45 pm, 30th November 2015

There are obviously concerns created by the particular circumstances of Four Seasons that raise issues around the current volatility in the sector. That is why it was important that I decided last week to halt and review the consultations in respect of statutory residential care homes.

I think that it is important that we go further than that and get a better picture. Given what has happened with Four Seasons, given what representatives of the sector have said in the media, without any substantiation, I might add, but worth listening to nonetheless, and given the issues that are looming around wages, a national living wage, and, indeed, the provision of appropriate nursing staff, it is only right and proper that we reflect on the current market position within residential and nursing care. As a result of that, I have asked officials to bring forward a detailed report on the care market in Northern Ireland, with an emphasis on the economic outlook and the longer-term sustainability of the current arrangements. That will be used to improve our understanding of the current challenges, and it will be used as a platform for developing our policy and operational responses moving forward. It is incredibly important that we undertake that work.

Given the issues with Four Seasons and the concerns that have been expressed elsewhere in the independent sector, it is only right that we get a view and an analysis of where the sector currently is.