A trial was carried out of Reality Orientation (R.O.) in a residential home for the elderly mentally infirm with a 'social therapy' control group, receiving the same amount of staff attention as the R.O. group, in addition to an untreated control group. R.O. residents improved more on tests of information and orientation and various aspects of memory than controls. These results support the hypothesis that the nature of staff attention is crucial and that it should encourage and reward appropriate behaviour. No differential effects of treatment were found on rating scale assessments of the resident's functioning in the home.