Contemporary literature on long-term aged care focuses heavily on issues associated with the recruitment and retention of nursing staff, such as job satisfaction and attitudes towards caring for older people. This paper aims to highlight one aspect of a larger study of registered nurses’ experiences in long-term aged care in Australia and the influence that government policy and reform has in shaping that experience. This insight into aspects of nurses’ everyday experience also contributes to a broader understanding of job satisfaction in long-term care. Findings from this study suggest that registered nurses experience tension in their search for value in their practice, which incorporates professional, political and social mediators of value and worth. These issues are discussed in relation to the impact of policy and reform on nurses’ sense of value in long-term aged care and highlight the need for sensitive policy initiatives that support issues of value in nursing practice.