Criteria are used to prioritise patients on waiting lists for health care services. This is also true for waiting lists for admission to psychogeriatric nursing homes. A patient's position on these latter waiting lists is determined by (changes in) urgency and waiting time. The present article focuses on the process and outcome of an urgency coding system in a fair selection of patients. It discusses the use of urgency codes in the daily practice of waiting list management and the related waiting times. Patients and their informal caregivers were followed from entry on the waiting list to admission to a nursing home. Caregivers were interviewed during the waiting period and after their relative's admission to a nursing home, and the formal urgency codes on the waiting list were monitored. Seventy-eight of the initial 93 patients were admitted to a nursing home. High urgency codes were commonly assigned and the waiting times were shorter for patients with higher urgency codes. Negative consequences of an urgency coding system, e.g. patients with less urgency not being admitted at all and patients not being admitted to the nursing home of their choice, could not be demonstrated. Patients without higher urgency codes were admitted after a mean waiting time of 28 weeks. It may be questioned whether this long waiting time is problematic, because satisfaction of the caregivers with regard to waiting times was not influenced by the actual waiting times. An urgency coding system enables health care professionals to react to changes in the situation of both patients and caregivers by adjusting urgency codes to influence the length of time until nursing home admission.