A former nurse has been jailed for life on Thursday (August 1) for deliberately starting two fires that killed 11 people at a nursing home in Sydney in November 2011.

Earlier this year Roger Dean admitted starting the fires in an attempt to cover up his theft of drugs from the Quakers Hill nursing home.

Relatives of his victims packed the court room for the sentence and applauded the sentence.

Outside, they cheered and embraced.

"I can finally breathe again. It's been nearly two years holding our breath. Now all this is over with and never to be released, oh, life, wonderful and I hope he suffers as much in jail as my mother suffered the last four days of her life which was horrendous," said Elly Valkay, whose 90-year-old mother Neeltje Valkay died in the blaze.

Dean pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder and 8 of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm when he set fire to the nursing home with more than 80 residents inside at the time.

Other said they were happy that Dean received a life sentence.

"We have a life sentence with our loved ones and I suppose it's only fitting now that he has a life sentence so that he knows how we feel because it is a life sentence and doesn't matter how old they were, they still loved us and we love them, we still miss them greatly, and if Mum had gone in a natural way, it would have affected me, but he's just torn our whole life upside down and my life will never be the same," said Sue Webeck, whose mother Verna Webeck was also killed.

The law in New South Wales was changed after the fire to make it compulsory for nursing homes in the state to have water sprinklers, local media reported.

Presented by Adam Justice