Modernising Social Services requires the use of satisfaction surveys in monitoring some key aspects of quality of provision, including user/carer perceptions and experiences of services and involvement of users/carers in assessment and review. Using data from the study Evaluating Community Care for Elderly People (ECCEP), of physically and/or mentally frail community-based older people in England and Wales receiving community care services, this investigation examines three crucial aspects of user satisfaction. The measures were: initial satisfaction with the assessment process and help provided by social services; also two measures obtained from a six month follow-up, namely satisfaction with service levels and with the experience of social services. Examination of overall satisfaction levels provided only a partial picture, due to their association with both user characteristics and the effect of life satisfaction. This association was therefore examined firstly by considering each characteristic separately and secondly by modelling the presence of each satisfaction measure in terms of those characteristics having a significant effect, using logistic regression. Arthritis, loneliness, problems keeping warm and an inner city location were all characteristics associated with reduced satisfaction, while most resource inputs, including social work involvement, were positively related to satisfaction. General life satisfaction was also associated with increased satisfaction levels. The role of life satisfaction as a predictor was further investigated through examining its dependence on case characteristics. While older users were more frequently satisfied with life, those with greater functional impairment and below average self-perceived health reported lower life satisfaction. Findings from this study highlight the complexity of interpreting satisfaction data and suggest that those responsible for designing and conducting surveys need to be aware of both the potential and pitfalls associated with using them as a means of assessing the quality of social services for older people.