The number of publicly-owned residential homes would be cut by a half under the Transforming Your Care (TYC) health proposals, the Health Minister told the Assembly, on 9 October 2012.
Edwin Poots was launching a public consultation into the TYC reforms to run until January 2013.
"During the next three to five years the current number of statutory residential homes would be reduced by at least 50% across Northern Ireland as we support increasing numbers of people to live in non-institutional settings," he said.
The minister said his aim was to "have a health and social care system that is safe, resilient and sustainable into the future".
Mr Poots said that in Belfast the Royal Victoria, City, Mater and Musgrave Park hospitals would "operate as one network with clinical services dispersed across the sites".
He outlined a range of other changes to services for older people, and for mental health and learning disability.
The minister said it was "not a cost-cutting exercise but about improving service delivery and making better use of the available resources".
Sue Ramsey of Sinn Fein wanted reassurance that TYC did not herald the privatisation of residential homes.
The minister said there was a lesser demand for residential care.
He said he could not ask someone to use a publicly-owned residential home that was not as good as a facility available in the private sector.