More than two-thirds of people on delayed discharge in hospitals are awaiting nursing home care.
Nursing Homes Ireland said there is more than enough space in facilities around the country to cater for these people.
The organisation is holding its annual conference today and is calling on the Department of Health to include nursing homes in its winter action plan.
CEO Tadhg Daly has said action is now needed to prevent overcrowding in hospitals.
"Older people who are unnecessarily in the acute hospital system need to be discharged quickly and the discharge needs to be expedited," Mr Daly said.
"It’s about ensuring that when people are admitted to the acute hospital that their discharge plan begins on the day of their admission and that there is early engagement with the family and indeed with the nursing home to ensure that the patient is discharged into the community at the earliest opportunity."