This small scale study examined social work students' attitudes to undertaking personal care tasks whilst involved in practice learning opportunities (PLOs) in private sector residential care, mostly with older people. A rationale for placing students in residential settings, within the requirements of social work education in Scotland, and the value of this for their learning, is explored. The authors then examine why students should be involved in undertaking personal care. A literature review highlights the main areas of study, namely value-behaviour congruence, notions of professionalism and the interface with managerialism, and the importance of an 'ethics of care' approach. The main findings from the study centred around the process of attaining value-behaviour congruence, the transformation of students' attitudes from negative to positive, the centrality of relationship building and explicit values, a generalised lack of acquiring or drawing on formal academic knowledge, and factors associated with an emergent social work professional.