One of the UK’s biggest care home groups is selling 52 of its homes and closing four so it can “better meet” current and future care needs.
HC-One said on Monday it is planning to sell 52 homes in areas where “we feel our communities would be better served by a local operator”.
Four homes will close, more than 200 will be refurbished, and two new homes are due to open.
The provider runs 328 care homes across the UK, employs 23,000 staff and cares for 14,000 residents.
The GMB union said the move “just shows how broken the current system is”.
HC-One said its plans will allow it to adapt to the “growing demand for more complex care and dementia care”.
Chief executive James Tugendhat said: “As we plan how best to use our resources to continuously improve our care homes, we are determined to invest where we can have the greatest impact and more effectively ready ourselves for the evolving needs of those we care for.
“As a result, we are putting 52 of our homes up for sale in areas where we feel our communities would be better served by a local operator in conjunction with other local services. We are also proposing to close four homes. In both cases, we will work closely with our local partners and commissioners.
“Whilst we have chosen to make this announcement now, having determined our investment priorities, our sales and the four closures will only happen when we are convinced that we have found the right alternative operator, and when residents are able to safely move to their new care placement, ensuring continuity of care throughout the pandemic.
“We will also be providing all possible support to our colleagues to make these processes as smooth as possible for them. It will be business as usual for every home until all these processes are complete.”
The GMB is calling for the affected homes to be brought under local authority control and for the Government to fund the transition costs.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: “This announcement (that) one our biggest social care providers is having to sell off and transfer care homes during the biggest public health crisis in all our lifetimes just shows how broken the current system is – maybe even on the verge of collapse.
“The appalling lack of Government strategy has led to thousands more staff and residents facing another crisis, with their futures uncertain while providers try and move the deckchairs and paper over the cracks in the absence of a plan.”
The Government has said it is committed to reform and will set out its proposals later this year.
But Ms Harrison said the sector needs “details of the plan and action now”.
She added: “Never before has a properly-funded National Care Service been so important.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are incredibly grateful for the efforts of staff across the care sector who continue to work tirelessly on the frontline of this pandemic.
“Delivering a care system that is fit for the future remains a priority and, following new measures set out in the Health and Care Bill White Paper, we will bring forward proposals for social care reform later this year.”