Principles of Nursing Practice

The Principles of Nursing Practice tell us what all people can expect from nursing practice, whether they are colleagues, patients, or the families or carers of patients. Nursing is provided by nursing staff, including ward managers (in hospitals) or team members (in the community), specialist nurses, community nurses, health visitors, health care assistants and student nurses.

The Principles are applicable across the UK. The same core values are also described in different ways in documents and strategies in the four countries, such as ‘the 6Cs’ (nursing care that is about Care, Compassion, Commitment, Communication, Courage and Competence) in England. You need to be mindful of how you personally contribute to the patient’s experience of care and be confident that you demonstrate these core values in action. Reflecting on this is an important step in maintaining high-quality  nursing care.

Nursing teams can use the Principles to drive quality improvement, continuing professional development (CPD) and sharing with patients and carers. They enable everyone to know what quality nursing looks like.

Some nurses are linking their CPD activities to the Principles to demonstrate how they’re keeping their knowledge and skills up to date. This information is useful during performance appraisals to show how quality care is being delivered against set objectives or a job/role description. The Principles can also be used to support challenges to good practice, such as being a person’s advocate (Principle D) or influencing changes to promote dignified care (Principle A).

You can find out more about the Principles of Nursing Practice on the RCN website.

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