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Quality of life (QOL) of older persons living in institutions is a critical consideration in international economic policies and health care decisions Yet, there is little relevant research to support decisions about culturally acceptable and effective nursing care for this population This qualitative study explored and compared perceptions of older residents and nurses in three long-stay institutions in south-west England It addressed issues viewed as important to a good QOL for residents and ways in which nurses promote QOL A convenience sample of 10 residents aged 65 and older (80% female) and nine nurses (n=five registered general nurses and four enrolled nurses) were interviewed using a semi-structured schedule Interview data were analysed using an analytic induction method of content analysis While theme frequency and examples differed, themes common to both residents and nurses were individuality, professionalism, connectedness, and physical functioning Resident responses tended to be personal, succinct, and sometimes negative Nurses' responses were more positive, detailed, and reflective of general professional responsibilities Implications for nursing education, research, and practice are discussed Improvement in QOL will be addressed differently based on social and cultural settings However, there may be commonalities that are applicable across cultures