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Repertory grid technique was used to study nurses’ feelings about longstay patients, with specific reference to the patients’ feeding needs Interviews and direct observation were used to supplement the data It was found that, although nurses claimed a high degree of satisfaction from caring for all patients, there were some people who were viewed less positively Overall, those patients who were easier to feed came closer to the nurses’ conceptions of the ‘ideal’ Possible reasons for this are discussed, and some of the implications for practice are outlined