UNISON Northern Ireland


Vulnerable residents in care homes across Northern Ireland are facing an uncertain future and possible disruption over the coming festive season. 

GMB and UNISON have been told the Four Seasons Care Homes are preparing to sell off all of their 42 residential homes as part of an overall group restructuring. 

UNISON and GMB have both slammed the move, especially the timing of the disclosure. “The announcement is a shock, which will impact on the hundreds of vulnerable elderly people and their families who are already concerned about their loved ones. The decision to sell off these care homes will also affect the hard-working staff, who have put their lives and health on the line. 

“At a time when we are all being told to pull together, during the most serious pandemic in our lifetime, we didn’t expect this bombshell, which comes just as we approach a time of colder weather and a very difficult Winter for the NHS and the health services sector.” 

The MD of the company Carol Cousins has met with and told the three unions GMB, RCN and UNISON that they are seeking bids from interested parties by October 20th with a protected sale by February 2021. 

The Trade Unions are now seeking support from the public and politicians and believe there is a moral duty on the owners to ensure safeguards for those at risk. 

The GMB's Alan Perry stated “We know there is a need for some investment in the company and we have serious worries for staff and residents, as it is possible that some homes are at risk of permanent closure. The whole question of care homes being in private hands rather than part of the NHS needs to be looked at. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Health Minister, Robin Swann to discuss our concerns. After the stresses of battling Coronavirus for the last nine months, staff and residents need reassurances that services and jobs will be maintained.” 

UNISON Regional Organiser Marianne Buick added "This news could not come at a more difficult time for the residents, their families and staff and is very unsettling for them.  They are all coping with the worry and stress of rising covid infections in the social care sector. Four Seasons hedge fund owners and associated shareholders should think carefully about how they proceed in these circumstances. The Minister now has a clear opportunity to make plans to acquire these homes and provide the care through the HSC." 

GMB, UNISON and RCN will be meeting with the company over the next few days to mitigate the impact on the staff and the residents this announcement will have