What ihcp does

ihcp is a non-profit making organisation representing private, voluntary, charitable and church affiliated providers of health and social care. Our members provide nursing and residential homes, housing with care schemes and homecare (domiciliary care). Services are provided for older people, vulnerable adults, including those with learning disabilities or mental health problems and people with other special needs. The sector employs over 34,000 people across NI. ihcp has an alliance with the Homecare Association and is also a member of the Five Nations Care Forum. This Forum enables representative care organisations for Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England to explore emerging models of care delivery, registration, regulation and government policy and identify areas of common concern; promoting inter-country collaboration where this will be of value to service users and citizens.

info dark

What we do – as an organisation

The aim of ihcp is to work in partnership with policy makers, commissioners, providers and others to provide better care, better services and better value. In promoting the delivery of quality care and improved outcomes for service users ihcp will:

  • Seek positive change that enables the sector to provide good quality care services through the engagement with policy makers on topics such as strategic workforce planning and working to achieve fair funding to maintain good quality and compliant standards.
  • Through constructive engagement with political representatives on issues impacting on independent health and social care and through liaison with the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (formerly HSC Board) and Trusts to represent the sector as policy is formulated.
  • Promote public awareness and confidence about the quality services provided by the sector by having the voice of the sector reflected by and in the media.
  • Continue to increase membership across the sector to build a united voice which is heard and acted upon and through the full engagement with the sector regarding current policy, potential policy change and any implication for the sector in respect of the delivery of a quality service.  
Layer 2

What the Sector does

  • The independent healthcare sector represents services and care settings including residential care, nursing care, day care, housing with care and homecare. We represent private, not for profit and charitable organisations and providers. This includes organisations and providers of varying types and sizes including single providers, small and medium groups, nationwide organisations, and voluntary organisations. 
  • A range of services are provided to meet individuals’ needs including services for older people, people living with dementia, adults with a learning disability, physical disabilities, and mental health issues.
  • We provide support and care for over 50,000 people in Northern Ireland and over 15,000 beds in residential and nursing homes. 
  • We employ over 34,000 people across Northern Ireland and deliver approximately 200,000 hours of care and support to people living in their own homes.

Our vision is the delivery of quality services, personalised care and support services whilst at all times recognising and building on an individual’s right to be consulted and have their opinions respected,  in all aspects of their care.


Office bearers

Pauline's photo Colour Black Jacket Side view

Pauline Shepherd

Cathal Oneill cropped Photo

Cathal O'Neill

Fiona McAnespies Photo for website

Fiona McAnespie



  • Director – JP Watson
  • Director – Wendy Waddicor
  • Director – Ryan Williams
  • Director - Carol Cousins
  • Director – Jennifer Moore
  • Director – Richard Porter
  • Director – Eddy Kerr
  • Ryan Smith
  • Director – Marina Lupari
  • Director – Gilbert Yates
  • Hon. Director – Rosemary Armstrong
  • Hon. Director – Janet Montgomery
info dark

History of ihcp

The first unofficial meeting of Nursing Home owners in Northern Ireland was held in the Drumkeen House hotel, Forestside, Belfast in 1989 with a subsequent meeting in The Europa Hotel where the guest speaker was Joe Campbell the MD of the newly established Scottish Care group. Joe became a firm friend with the Nursing Home owners in Northern Ireland and encouraged us to stand together. It proved difficult to achieve as we were a small group who wanted to represent the interests of owners only and it was felt that we needed the guidance of an established group.

Contact was made with the Federation of Small business who had an interest in supporting the nursing and residential sector (which was in its early infancy) but did not see it as a priority. Our next contact was the Registered Nursing Homes Association in Birmingham which was a well–established trade representative for England, Scotland and Wales. As we had a devolved government in Northern Ireland, where health and social care were integrated, it was difficult to see how membership would provide the way forward for us.

Mask Group 4
Mask Group 7

As I had offered a similar service in England before moving back home, it was decided that I would represent our group. In 1992 we became members and I flew to Birmingham every month and reported back, identifying the areas and parameters that we could adopt within Northern Ireland’s system.

The results of being members were by and large good and after a period of two years we formed our own independent association called the Registered Homes Association. As a fledgling body it wasn’t without its problems. The nursing home owners wanted sole representation by the association, but because of our integrated service we had no justification to exclude the residential providers who were not nurse led. To add to the challenges, the new Registration and Inspection units were established resulting in some owners taking a more confrontational approach. This small group were adamant that they would only join/support us if we adopted the same approach.

During any time of change, people get stressed and react in different ways. As well as the owners, the home managers were asking for a representative through which they could channel their problems, complaints and concerns without putting their heads above the parapet.

It was a very difficult time in our history because we were trying to be all things to all people, but only pleasing the very few. It was an owner led association and it was chaired by an owner from the Nursing Home sector so therefore we were not really stating our case for the future benefit of our collective membership……it was time for change.

The committee agreed that we looked to appoint a chair from a reputable organisation outside of the nursing home sector. Janet Montgomery and I took on the task and we met with John Richardson, the then Director of Social Services in the Belfast Trust. John had the essential working background knowledge and leadership skills that we needed and he was also looking to retire from his present position! Janet, John and I sealed the deal during a very long lunch in Deans Restaurant in Bedford Street Belfast in 1997.

John brought about the changes that were urgently needed. The name of the organisation was changed to The Independent Health and Social Care Providers which represents nursing, residential and home care providers throughout the province. It is a non-profit organisation representing private, voluntary and church-affiliated providers. John was the person who gave us stability and credibility and opened the way for new working and new relationships.

Mask Group 9

John eventually relocated to England and the next man at the helm was Hugh Mills. Hugh was from a similar professional background to John and continued flying the flag for the organisation until he retired. It was during Hugh’s time that we became members of the Five Nations Care Forum which enables representative care organisations for England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales to explore emerging models of care delivery, registration, regulation and government policy and to identify areas of common concern; promoting intercountry collaboration where this will be of value to service users and citizens.

I like to think that the few who had the vision to see the destination the organisation was heading for- and how best to achieve it - must be very proud of having that vision realised today through the IHCP led by Pauline Shepherd.

A success story, don’t you think?

Screenshot (13)

What our members say:

As a long standing member of ihcp I can recommend the opportunity for networking as second to none. The way in which ihcp has developed over the years is a credit to the executive leadership. As a lobbying and representative group there is no better informed representative organisation of the care sector in NI and the role of ihcp will only get stronger as more people join and offer their input and experience to the group. Better together is my own experience of ihcp and I would encourage others to join and become fully involved.

Hutchinson Care Homes

ihcp has been an invaluable support over the years of our membership, the pandemic has strengthened the importance of the organization who have taken a holistic approach -speaking up, advocating and lobbying for the sector, focusing on operators, staff, residents and families to support the delivery of person-centred compassionate quality care. They have been a constant source of support, provided opportunities to link in with other service providers, always quick to try and help when an issue is identified or information/clarity needed, they have been instrumental in developing opportunities for engagement and having our voice heard

Belfast Central Mission

ihcp has proved to be an excellent, responsive forum within which to further these aims, where we have gained much knowledge and where we trust we have shared ideas, leveraged and lent our voice in the spirit of sector togetherness. ihcp channels and strengthens the voices of all Independent Sector Provider members and amplifies our individual and collective matters of concern in those forums where impactful and meaningful decisions, which matter most to us, are taken.


Optimum Care

Towell House have been supported by ihcp through very difficult periods with immeasurable presence; offering vast amounts of updates and guidance. They are always on hand to be proactive on issues and have canvassed assistance resulting in solutions. ihcp manage our industry concerns speaking with one voice for all care providers.





Towell House

ihcp provide a voice for the sector – a voice that is listened to by the government, but also, just importantly, by the media.
ihcp provide a voice for small organisations like ourselves, who find it difficult to be heard.
ihcp represent the sector in many fundamental ways, such as regional tariff increases, policy development, care sector development.
ihcp have been central in advocating to the Dept of Health to ensure members received adequate funding (and PPE) throughout the pandemic.
ihcp provide a balanced, non-reactive, and representative voice to the media to counter balance the often negative stories heard by the general public.

Castleview PNH

We have been a member of IHCP for a number of years now. As a small group of care homes we feel the benefit of being part of a much larger organisation that exists to provide healthcare providers like us support and representation.

The IHCP provides us with a forum to share ideas with like-minded providers which gives us opportunity to improve our services.

In our opinion the main benefit of IHCP membership is the voice and representation we have at Department of Health level. This affords us the opportunity to help influence policy decisions through direct input at ministerial level and to hear about these policies and decisions without delay.

If anything the pandemic really highlighted the benefit of IHCP membership as it exposed the support that is gained by a collective.

Burnview Healthcare

Age NI greatly appreciates the support we receive from IHCP including up to date information, opportunities to meet other care providers, share areas of concern and have these raised with key decision makers. The team are very approachable and excellent advocates for the sector.

Age NI