AIM: To find out the reasons why carers might decide that they could not continue caring for a relative with dementia at home. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews with carers of relatives who have dementia, before placing their relatives into residential care and then again four months after that placement. N=4. RESULTS: Wandering, aggression, incontinence and physical dependency in people who have dementia are factors that might lead carers to consider placing their relatives into residential care; stress associated with Christmas can be another influencing factor. CONCLUSION: Carers looking after a relative who has dementia would benefit if the relative was provided with increased day care and home respite sitting services; services should be increased at Christmas; and support staff should be knowledgeable about the specific needs of people who have dementia and their carers.