BACKGROUND: Families/carers relinquishing the care of family members with a disability into the care of out-of-home respite facilities is an under-researched area in the disability field. With this in mind, the aim of this study was to explore the factors that lead to families relinquishing care, the potential early indicators that families are considering relinquishment; the factors that may prevent relinquishment and the outcomes for families/carers after relinquishment occurs. METHOD: Thirty-two client files (of individuals for whom families have relinquished their care in a defined 12-month period) were reviewed for information around their relinquishment into out-of-home respite care facilities for an extended stay. Staff members involved with these families (a total of 17) were also interviewed to provide more information. RESULTS: A thematic analysis of the results found that the factors that led to relinquishment could be categorised into: (1) characteristics inherent to the individual with intellectual disability; (2) characteristics inherent to the family/carer; and (3) characteristics associated with the support context that the carer/family is currently experiencing. It was also found that families'/carers' experienced positive outcomes after relinquishment had occurred; however, feelings of guilt and mourning were initially felt. CONCLUSIONS: Extra supports (e.g. increased respite care, planning for movement of the family member into out-of-home permanent accommodation and case management) and positive interventions such as parent training were highlighted as potential strategies to achieve more lasting benefits from short-stay out-of-home respite care.