BACKGROUND: Planning for future care after the death of parental caregivers and adapting disability support systems to achieve the best possible quality of life for people with intellectual disability as they age have been important issues for more than two decades. This study examined perceptions held by family members, group home staff and organisational managers about the future of older residents and the decisions made that a move to residential aged care was necessary. METHODS: Grounded Dimensional Analysis was used to guide data collection and analysis by an interdisciplinary research team. Three sets of interviews over a period of 18 months were conducted with a family member, house supervisor and the programme manager for each of seventeen older group home residents in Victoria. For the eight people for whom it was decided a move was necessary and the six who eventually moved focussed questions were asked about the decision-making process. RESULTS: While plans for lifelong accommodation in a group home proved unfounded, key person succession plans were effective. However, decisions to move to a residential aged care facility where necessary were made in haste and seen as a fait accompli by involved family members. CONCLUSIONS: Although family members take seriously their mandate to oversee well-being of their older relative, they have little knowledge about their rights or avenues to safeguard untimely or inappropriate decisions being made by professionals.