This study was designed to explore the process of social support during the course of adjusting to life in a nursing home Qualitative data were gathered, through four sequential interviews of residents newly admitted to a nursing home, and from 12 months of participant observation in the setting Residents' perceptions of supportive and non-supportive behaviours and their sources were identified and described The findings indicated negligible change in perceptions of type or source of support over time Emotional support and practical assistance emerged as the primary supportive and non-supportive behaviours from others, mainly nursing staff Advice/guidance support was not mentioned Residents who had lived in the nursing home for more than 1 year differed from new residents in the ability to extend support to others Support interventions are suggested