In order to understand what residential care means to old people, it is important not just to consider the characteristics of residents but also to examine the process of becoming a resident and the relationship between the nature of admission and the successful adaptation to a new environment. The prospect of moving into an old people’s home is seldom viewed with pleasure; indeed we suspect that most old people, even of advanced age, keep such an option out of mind until perhaps a particular change in circumstances forces such a consideration. The impressions that older people have of residential life, if not entirely coloured by images of the workhouse tradition of the past, are often based upon some knowledge of the restrictions that will be placed upon them. Old people’s homes may be thought of as suitable for some old people, but not for themselves. For many, too, the residential setting is seen as a place to die, and the acknowledgement of this fact is often experienced in stark contrast with the old person’s determination to survive. Moreover, events prior to admission will have a significant impact on the subsequent construction of a resident’s life once relocated in the home, for, although institutional factors will influence this outcome, they are not the sole determinants of the way residents cope with the change to residential life.