Emphasis on support for informal carers focuses on those who provide, in the words of the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, 'substantial' and 'regular' care. Following research and policy, professional education has also developed interest in those who live with the people they support, such as co-resident spouses and children of all ages. This article considers those who probably do not define themselves as carers and are usually referred to as 'relatives' or 'family', living at a distance from an older relative. It explores their possible need for support as well as the form and level of their involvement in relation to care managed services. It describes key areas or events to draw out practice issues and concludes with a discussion of the extent to which care management can work with such relatives. In many ways caring at a distance forces an examination of what is meant by 'care' and who can legitimately claim this as an emotion or status. The rationale for such interest is therefore three-fold. If social workers and social work educators restrict the meaning and their definitions of carers to those who provide 'hands on' services, as part of the care package, they risk alienating relatives from the learning experience of students. In doing so they may neglect these highly valued supports of older people and may leave relatives distressed and disempowered by anxiety over their contract with social work agencies.