A high profile care home operator has announced plans to invest £50m in Northern Ireland, creating 1,000 new jobs for the province.
The Priory Group said it will open 16 new homes for older people in the region in the next two years, providing a total of 1,200 beds.
The independent company, which is best known for its celebrity clinic in London, moved into the elderly care market last year.
It entered the Northern Ireland market when it invested £3.5m in its second care home, the Ben Madigan in Newtownabbey.
The newly announced plans are for homes in key demographic locations such as Belfast, Coleraine, North Down & Ards, Craigavon and Ballymena.
These homes will offer long-term, short-term and respite nursing for older people who are physically frail |or living with dementia-related |disorders.
The announcement marks an escalation in the expansion plans revealed by the Belfast Telegraph when the Ben Madigan home opened in July last year.
At that point the company said its intention was to invest £35m and increase its bed capacity to 700 which it hoped would create 700 new jobs.
Belfast-born chief executive of the Priory Group Philip Scott said at the time that the group had identified a gap in the market for high quality care homes in the province.
Managing director of Priory Care Homes Sharon Butler, also from Northern Ireland, confirmed that yesterday when she said: “Northern Ireland is a key part of Priory’s ambitious expansion programme.
“There is a clear need for high quality care homes for older people within Northern Ireland, and that presents a perfect growth opportunity for us.
“The experience the Priory Group has in mental health, complex and long term care transfers very well into older people’s services”.
She addded: “People are now living longer and have more complex needs and associated health issues that we have the experience to care for. We are building on our already strong and established areas of expertise and offering an even more comprehensive range of facilities for service users.”
Ms Butler, who trained as a nurse at Ards Hospital, has worked with the two largest care home groups, Four Seasons Health Care and Southern Cross Healthcare.
Priory has also appointed Dr Dan Nightingale as its head of dementia care, and said that the homes will reflect the latest research in helping people suffering from dementia.
The mental healthcare provider’s name if best known for the celebrity clinic in London whose clientele has included Kate Moss and Susan Boyle.
However it operates 51 sites in total, has 18 hospitals, 27 schools and a number of specialist care homes. The company currently employs around 2,500 people in the UK.