Engaging nursing students in the complexities of care across community, acute, rehabilitation and residential aged care settings is challenging. Equally challenging is conceptualising and promoting diverse and comprehensive health assessments across care settings that reflect clinical reality, inform clinical decision making, traverse theory and practice, and transform clinical practice knowledge. This article describes the use of narrative and evolving case study as a teaching-learning tool utilised by the authors in a third year undergraduate gerontic nursing subject in a pre-service nursing degree at a rural university. Principles of transformative learning and strengths based nursing were drawn upon in the development of the case study.The aim of the approach was to draw on embedded knowledge and the experiences of students and academics from assorted practice settings to facilitate understanding of the lived experiences of an older community dwelling couple. Using social learning strategies students were encouraged to analyse and think critically and creatively about the situations they were presented with. They identified possible solutions that would be acceptable to the couple. Building on the older couple's strengths, achievements and personal social capital, the aim was to develop a positive paradigm for health and the way older people are viewed by nursing students.