AIMS: This article is a report of a study of the key influences on family-staff collaboration in low level residential aged care (assisted living) facilities in Australia as seen by the family carers of residents. BACKGROUND: Collaboration with the willing family is widely acknowledged to be important in the care of the older person. Previous work in nursing homes has shown that staff-family relationships are often ambiguous. Relatively little is known about the issue of staff-family relationships in assisted living facilities. METHODS: Using qualitative methodology twelve family carers from five assisted living facilities were interviewed and transcripts analysed thematically. Data were collected in 2006/2007. RESULTS: Four factors important to the establishment and maintenance of collaborative staff-family relationships were identified: comfort, communication, consultation and confidence. CONCLUSION: Low level care facilities need to create environments that are conducive to the establishment and maintenance of constructive staff-family relationships. A number of practice considerations for care staff to foster relationship-centred care with the family in these types of facilities are presented.