This mainly qualitative study compared 40 families' experience of hospital and home care. This is one aspect of a randomised, controlled trial, which aimed to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of a paediatric hospital at home service (HAH) for acute illness in children. This paper builds upon previous work that has aimed to examine parents' and children's views as service users. Forty families from a larger sample population took part in structured interviews. Eleven children aged 5 to 12 years took part in semistructured interviews. A drawing technique was the chosen method of augmentation in the children's interviews. Research findings showed that HAH is an acceptable alternative to hospital care where there are essentially nursing needs. Thirty-six (90%) parents and seven children stated a clear preference for HAH. The parents' preference was based on a perception that their child's illness wasn't serious or life threatening and therefore could be managed at home with appropriate support from health professionals. The social and financial costs of hospital care compared with HAH were the other main drivers, rather than a comparison of the quality of nursing care of their child.