This paper considers developments in long-term care that are increasingly focused around the individual. Recent decades have seen massive changes in the way that care is understood and provided. Yet in Australia, as in Europe, North America and Asia, we are still a long way from a stable state of agreed services and provisions. Emphasising the social theory behind the shift, it is argued that understanding the individualisation of care cannot be reduced to a simple dichotomy of good or bad. Individualised care promises much, but the concept is applied to a wide range of phenomena, often in ways that conceal rather than reveal the character of the transactions involved. For individualisation to become meaningful it must be developed as a condition of recognition that is equally applicable to those who provide and those who depend on care. It is also important to distinguish individualised care finance arrangements from real attainments in the practice of providing care. These distinctions are necessary if we are to distinguish its use as an ideological justification for welfare cutbacks and the restructuring of care provisions as markets from the liberating potential that the approach can present when care practices are more truly based around the recognition of the individuals concerned: those who receive and depend on assistance as well as those who provide it.