Aims: The study aims to analyse the tensions and the challenges of dementia care that are experienced by people with dementia and their family caregivers in China. Background: China has the largest dementia population in the world; however, dementia care services and related support services are still developing. Caring for a person with dementia is very challenging, as evidenced by many studies. As the majority of people with dementia are looked after by their family in their homes in China, it is very important to understand what people with dementia and their family caregivers are experiencing in the context of dementia care services that are in the process of developing. Design: Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used. Method: Semi-structured individual interviews with 24 participants (10 people with dementia and 14 unrelated family caregivers) recruited from a mental health centre in Shandong Province. Findings: Three main themes emerged that highlighted unmet need: (a) Lack of support services, (b) Insufficient institutional care and (c) Social attitude and social stigma towards dementia. Conclusions: These themes reveal the challenges that the participants face in the context of dementia care services that are in the process of development in China; and how their lived experiences have been affected by the constraints of social support, public services, healthcare access, long-term care services and social stigma. Implications for practice: This study highlights the tensions that are identified by people with dementia and family caregivers. The research recommends that more support services would be beneficial for this group and would also enhance family support dementia care in China. Looking after an older family member is a culturally, socially and legally embodied norm in Chinese society, so it is important to address education for dementia awareness and the sustainability of family support care services in China by providing dementia services and resources to support both people with dementia and family caregivers.