• aged care;
  • community mental health nursing;
  • family caregiving;
  • grounded theory;
  • mutuality;
  • nurse−family relations

ABSTRACT: This paper reports on the research findings derived from a grounded theory study that examined the processes through which community mental health nurses work with families of older people with depression. Data were collected through semistructured, in-depth interviews with six community mental health nurses and seven family caregivers of older people with depression, and observations of their interactions in natural settings. Data collection and analysis were guided by theoretical sampling and the constant comparative process. The findings indicate that the nurse−­family caregiver relationship involves working towards mutuality, which is shaped by both the nurse and family caregiver. It is through the process of ‘shaping mutuality’ that a nurse and family caregiver learn to collaborate, and achieve their individual goals and desired outcomes, both for the patient and for themselves.