This study investigated district nurses' considerations of the Marie Curie Nursing Service. Most saw the primary service as respite care and referred patients to it during late stages of illness rather than palliative phases. The MCNS is valued, but confusion exists about appropriate referral times and the services provided. Improvement in communication and education is needed. The provision of this home palliative nursing service helps to promote the principle of palliative care in optimising the quality of life of patients who have life-limiting diseases and their families.