ABSTRACT Contact with family and friends, in the form of visiting, is very important to the quality of the lives of rural nursing home residents. However, there has been little recent research that examines the frequency and determinants of visits to rural nursing homes and none in the rural Australian context. This study aimed to address this gap in the literature. A telephone survey with a close family member (N=257) of each participating resident in the rural New England area of New South Wales, Australia gathered data about 3,738 people who formed the potential social networks of these residents. This study found that the wider, potential, social networks of rural nursing home residents comprised approximately 17 people and involved a wide range of family and friends. However, their actual social networks consisted of approximately two females, daughters and friends, who had high-quality relationships with the resident and who visited at least once per month. In contrast to previous assertions that nursing home residents have robust support from their family and friends, the actual social networks of these residents have dwindled considerably over recent years, which may place them at risk of social isolation. This study has implications for nursing home policy and practice and recommendations for addressing the risk of social isolation that rural nursing home residents face are made.