The Fundamentals of Care

The ILC is committed to developing and implementing the best available research evidence on fundamental care. Key to this work is developing agreement on a definition for fundamental care and the activities that constitute such care. The Fundamentals of Care Framework was a key catalyst in achieving this goal.

Subsequent work has been undertaken to test, refine and implement the Framework. This included a collaborative research project involving ILC members from Australia, Sweden and New Zealand to develop a working definition for fundamental care and a list of activities that constitute such care:


Working definition

Fundamental care involves actions on the part of the nurse that respect and focus on a person’s essential needs to ensure their physical and psychosocial wellbeing. These needs are met by developing a positive and trusting relationship with the person being cared for as well as their family/carers.

Feo, R., Conroy, T., Jangland. E., Muntlin Athlin, Å., Brovall, M., Parr, J., Blomberg, K., & Kitson, A. (2017). Towards a standardised definition for fundamental care: A modified Delphi study. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27, 2285-2299. doi: 10.1111/jocn.14247


The Fundamentals of Care


Physical fundamentals of care (patient needs and/or outcomes)

  • Personal cleansing (including oral/mouth care) and dressing
  • Toileting needs
  • Eating and drinking
  • Rest and sleep
  • Mobility
  • Comfort (e.g., pain management, breathing easily, temperature control)
  • Safety (e.g., risk assessment & management, infection prevention, minimising complications)
  • Medication management

Psychosocial fundamentals of care (patient needs and/or outcomes)

  • Communication (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Being kept involved and informed
  • Privacy
  • Dignity
  • Respect
  • Education and information
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Having values and beliefs considered and respected

Relational fundamentals of care (nurse actions)

  • Active listening
  • Being empathetic
  • Engaging with patients
  • Being compassionate
  • Being present and with patients
  • Supporting and involving families and carers
  • Helping patients to cope
  • Working with patients to set, achieve and evaluate progression of goals
  • Helping patients to stay calm
The following psychosocial fundamentals of care did not receive consensus in Round 2 of the Delphi survey:
  • Choice
  • Social engagement, company and support
  • Feeling able to express opinions and needs without care being compromised
  • Having interests and priorities considered and accommodated (where possible)


Last updated 12 April 2019