This article analyses the general ethical milieu in a nursing home for elderly residents and provides a decision-making model for analysing the ethical situations that arise. It considers what it means for the residents to live together and for the staff to be in ethically problematic situations when caring for residents. An interpretative phenomenological approach and Sandman’s ethical model proved useful for this purpose. Systematic observations were carried out and interpretation of the general ethical milieu was summarized as ‘being in the same world without meeting’. Two themes and four subthemes emerged from the analysis. Three different ethical problems were analysed. The outcome of using the decision-making model highlighted the discrepancy between the solutions used and well-founded solutions to these problems. An important conclusion that emerged from this study was the need for a structured tool for reflection.