Embattled care home provider Southern Cross Healthcare is reportedly planning to return 132 of its properties to landlords in a move that could cause disruption for hundreds of residents.
Southern Cross, the UK's largest care home operator with 31,000 elderly residents, has distributed documents to landlords that reveal plans to exit almost 20% of its 752 homes, the Financial Times reports.
It is expected many of the properties will continue to be run as care homes by other operators or the landlords themselves, but documents conceded that a "double digit" number of the homes may close.
Earlier this week it revealed plans to cut 3,000 jobs, including more than 300 nurses, while 1,275 care staff, 700 catering posts, 440 domestic jobs and 238 maintenance roles could also go.
Southern Cross has told its 80 landlords it is keen to work with them to "enable the orderly transition to an alternative operator of their choice".
The operator recently warned it is in a "critical financial condition" as it unveiled a £311 million loss in the six months to March 31.
It plans to reduce its annual rent bill from £202.3 million to £137.5 million and recently announced it will cut the rent it pays to landlords by 30% as it tries to give itself some breathing space.
Darlington-based Southern Cross, which employs 44,000 staff, said proposals to slash its workforce by nearly 7% are part of its business revamp launched 18 months ago.
It was revealed on Thursday that concerns about management at its care homes have been raised by the social care regulator.
Of 49 homes reviewed by the Care Quality Commission since October, it found issues with staffing levels at 19, reports claim.