‘Private lives in public places’. With this title we catch our first glimpse of what appear to be conflicting interests in public provision of residential care for elderly people. A consideration of a number of opposing forces within residential caring forms the central theme of this book, which contrasts the rhetoric of policy with observed practice. Taking an historical perspective, we can trace the origins of residential provision from the Victorian workhouse to the purpose built, forty-bedded home typical of public provision today. In so doing we can see an increasing emphasis being placed on normality, client self-determination, and community integration.