Care must be viewed as the essence of nursing

(Nursing Times) The phrase “nursing leadership” should convey a direct connection to the discipline of nursing. The focus of nursing leaders is to nurse. All the activities related to the role are ultimately centred on those being nursed. Nursing leaders must be able to articulate nursing’s unique role in the healthcare team. This calls for a substantive understanding of caring as the essence of nursing.

Caring is the core intention that directs all actions. Within the framework of caring, the nursing leader is responsible for rising to the challenges that make hearing the calls for nursing difficult, as well as securing the resources needed to truly nurse.

Caring-based nursing leadership calls for a commitment on the part of the nurse to know himself or herself as a caring person. Mayeroff (1971), a philosopher, offered a view of caring that takes it out of the emotive realm and moves towards an understanding of it as an expression of one’s humanness. He described the following concepts as expressions of caring: knowing, alternating rhythms, courage, patience, hope, honesty, trust and humility.

Appreciating how one lives courage, hope, patience and so on enhances the knowing of self and others as caring. Caring-based nursing leadership sees all people as living the concept of caring uniquely. It is grounded in a desire to know others as caring and to create, maintain and support an environment for practice in which calls for nursing can be heard and nurturing responses supported.