Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, told BBC’s Sunday Show that 40 per cent of the 800 private care homes were in danger as they face rising energy bills and a staffing crisis.
He said unless the crisis was addressed by the Scottish Government, there may not be a social care sector “worth its name” by next spring.
He said the vast majority of the care homes Scottish Care represented were “small family run businesses”.
“If you're part of a larger group, you're much more sustainable.
"We have estimated that between 30 and 40 per cent of that total, unless we address as you rightly say soaring energy costs, soaring food costs, workforce costs, not least agencies and a whole manifold range of real pressures, not least of which is spiralling numbers of people falling ill to the flu.
"Unless we address those issues we will not have a social care sector for older people in terms of residential care worth its name by next spring.
"The consequences first and foremost are the lives and the quality of life of some of our most important citizens are going to be profoundly impacted and affected.
"You do not want in your 90s having arrived at a place where you were finally able to be supported in your advanced dementia to be informed that you're going to have to move to a different place because that care home cannot sustain itself.
"We cannot allow in the midst of the current crisis, the quality care and provision of older people to be sacrificed simply because people are not attending to the real issues that are facing the sector."
Depute SNP leader and Justice Secretary Keith Brown admitted the situation in Scotland as "serious".
"It's a serious situation, and I think that's been acknowledged by the health secretary,” he said.
"The priority now is to try and get a pay deal over the line to make sure we can keep people at work.
"The structure of the situation in the UK whereby the health consequentials very much relate to what the UK government's priority are mean that I think for years now we failed to match other European countries."
Broomfield Court Care Home in Barmulloch, Glasgow, closed in June, with rising energy bills blamed. Former operators Larchwood said the facility was not financially viable, adding: “This has been exacerbated by the level of fees set which has not taken into account the huge rise in energy costs which has impacted the whole sector.”
Moncreiffe Care Home in Bridge of Earn was closed the following month with businessman John Bryden saying energy bills were part of a perfect storm of problems which made the facility unsustainable to operate.
Care homes get most of their funding from a fixed weekly rate from councils which was set in April, before the scale of the energy crisis was fully known. This year’s rate paid to homes is £832.10 per person per week (pppw) for nursing care and £719.50 pppw for residential care.