Between January and June 1988, a survey of 7516 people in aged care facilities in the Auckland region (99.4% response rate) was undertaken to ascertain the extent and provision of care for elderly people requiring ongoing care in order to make comparisons with other centres in New Zealand. Information was gathered about their ability to perform various activities of daily living by staff members who completed a structured precoded and pretested questionnaire for each resident or patient. Overall levels of dependency were also assessed as part of the questionnaire: 13% were assessed as requiring long stay hospital care, 48% had moderate or appreciable dependency, and the remainder had some dependency (23%) or none at all (16%). Almost one quarter (23%) of the 5213 residents in old people's homes were rated as apparently independent. Of people in religious and welfare residential homes, 38% were rated as independent whereas in commercial rest homes 12% of people were classified in this way. This high level of apparent independence in religious and welfare homes is the main aspect in which the Auckland long term care scene is distinct from other regions in the country.