In many Western countries, older people live and die in long-term institutional care settings. Habermas's concepts of lifeworld, system and communicative action are drawn upon to illuminate the experience of living and dying in this particular place. It is proposed that dying older adults, their family and care staff occupy different contested states and long term care settings are contested places, located in a wider system. This wider system, mediated through care homes, can colonise the life world experiences of dying individuals. The development of communicative space bridges the lifeworld and system and offers a way for the lifeworld of dying individuals, and those around them to be reintegrated into, and influence the wider system.