First, I should say that Four Seasons Health Care has taken a business decision to close those homes. That decision was taken independently of the Department and the Health and Social Care Board, and we had no input to the analysis conducted by Four Seasons that led to the decision.
I fully appreciate that the closure of seven nursing homes by Four Seasons Health Care will impact on many residents and their families, and will cause great anxiety and uncertainty for those directly affected by the closures. My Department is working closely with colleagues in the Health and Social Care Board, the health and social care trusts, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and Four Seasons Health Care in developing plans to manage the transition to alternative care arrangements. The aim is to ensure that any relocation will be managed, with minimal disruption to residents, and that they are able to remain as close to their original location as possible. The continued well-being of residents will be the priority in dealing with the transition to alternative care arrangements.
My Department has established a joint working group with the Health and Social Care Board, the RQIA and the trusts to monitor developments and oversee the resettlement of the residents affected by the closures. Within the trusts, multidisciplinary teams have been established to work through the detail of all the moves to identify new placements and to manage the terms of all the moves. You will appreciate that that is a complex and difficult task, and team members will therefore be drawn from across the trusts. Staffing is a matter for Four Seasons Health Care as their employer.