The construction of a meaningful life depends upon satisfying ‘fundamental human needs’. These are broadly categorised as: physical, social and self-actualisation needs that every human experiences. Some fundamental human needs satisfiers, such as ‘home’, are synergic, addressing more than one need. For an older person, the move to a care home compromises their ontological security (through disruption of identification with place and control over environment) that one's own ‘home’ provides. This paper explores the complex issues surrounding the residential status of care home residents in terms of fundamental human needs. The methodology utilised was hermeneutic phenomenology. Eight older residents participated in the study, and each resident was interviewed up to eight times over a period of six months. Narrative analysis was used to interpret how participants viewed their experiences and environment. Five themes emerged from the narratives that collectively demonstrate that residents wanted their residential status to involve ‘living with care’ rather than ‘existing in care’. The five themes were: ‘caring for oneself/being cared for’; ‘being in control/losing control’; ‘relating to others/putting up with others’; ‘active choosers and users of space/occupying space’ and ‘engaging in meaningful activity/lacking meaningful activity’. This study indicates that if care homes are to achieve synergic qualities so residents are able to regard care homes as ‘home’, then care home staff may need to be more focused on recognising, acknowledging and supporting residents' aspirations regarding their future lives, and their status as residents.