Health worker unions and political representatives have united in expressing shock and concern at the closure of seven Four Seasons care homes in Northern Ireland.
Unison regional secretary Patricia McKeown said the decision had inflicted “trauma” on both residents and the 300 staff members affected.
Kevin McAdam of Unite said the health minister must guarantee residents “alternative statutory provision”.
Two of the seven homes are in east Belfast. The area’s MP, Gavin Robinson, said: “The uncertainty caused by this announcement must not be compounded by a lack of communication between the company and those affected.”
Claire Sugden MLA chairs the All Party Group for Ageing and Older People at Stormont.
She said the loss of care provision for 254 elderly residents was “unacceptable”, and added: “Public services, particularly for older people, are being decimated because of the lack of government strategy.”
Fearghal McKinnney of the SDLP said the decision will present a “great challenge” to all those affected, while his party colleague Cllr Terry Andrews said the closure of Oakridge in Ballynahinch was “terrible news”.
UUP councillor Jim Rodgers described the loss of the two east Belfast homes as a “major blow”.
Ukip Portadown councillor David Jones said he was particularly concerned at the closure of Donaghcloney, and added: “Care of the elderly should not be subject to market forces.”