One seldom-discussed issue is the factors that influence nurses’ decisions about the time they spend with residents in psychiatric care. This study uses a qualitative naturalistic approach and consists of an analysis of focus-group interviews with nurses, which aimed to identify factors affecting nurses’ decisions about being with or being nonattendant in their relationship with their residents. Two series of focus-group interviews were conducted, interpreted and analysed through content analysis. The study included all the staff (n = 32) at two municipal psychiatric group dwellings housing residents mainly with a diagnosis of long-term schizophrenia. This study revealed that the main factor that determined nurses’ nurse/resident time together or nonattendance time was whether they liked or disliked the individual resident. One possible explanation is the carers’ change from a perspective in which the nursing care was given on the basis of each resident's needs and rights, based on the individual nurse's professional judgement, to a consumer perspective, which leads to a change in responsibility from themselves to the individual residents.