Older people living in long-term facilities (nursing and residential homes providing 24-hour care) spend the majority of their time inactive, despite the known health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity and reduced time spent sedentary. In order to successfully embed interventions that aim to increase physical activity or reduce sedentary behaviour, it is necessary to understand the features of the care environment that influence residents’ routine patterns of movement. Drawing on an organisational perspective, this paper explores the structures and mechanisms that shaped different care practices concerning residents’ movement in two contrasting care homes in the north of England. This study adopted an ethnographic approach, using a combination of qualitative observations, informal conversations and interviews. A grounded theory approach to data analysis was adopted. The findings illustrate the importance of translating espoused values of care into tangible and acceptable care practices, systems of management, staff training and development, and the use of care planning in residents’ routine patterns of movement. Understanding how organisational factors shape routine movement among care home residents will help inform the development of embedded and sustainable interventions that enhance physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour. This study is part of a wider programme of research developing and testing a complex intervention, embedded within routine care, to reduce sedentary behaviour among care home residents.