• Registered Nurses (RNs) working in nursing homes in Sweden have obligations towards the residents' relatives, besides the care of residents. Relatives' involvement and satisfaction with the care partly depend on their contacts and communication with the staff.
• This study aimed to explore and describe RNs' views and experiences of relatives of residents who live in nursing homes.
• Open interviews were conducted with 19 RNs at three nursing homes. The verbatim-transcribed interviews were subjected to qualitative content analysis.
• Relatives were seen as a resource (with some restrictions) and nice, although demanding. The RNs saw relatives as part of their work – a part that could be time-consuming and had low priority.
• Interviewees noticed a difference between young and old relatives, and between female and male relatives.
• A large proportion of accounts could be related to issues about communication and interpersonal relationships with relatives.
• Building a trusting relationship with relatives may result in them being involved in residents' care and thus giving the nurses time rather than consuming time.