This study aimed to understand what post-operative patients perceived was important about the nursing care they had experienced. The participants were nine women recovering from total hip replacement surgery which had been performed in a large public, acute care hospital in south Australia. Participants volunteered to be involved in the study and were interviewed pre- and post-operatively and interviews continued in their home environment following discharge. The study took place during 1995 within a 10-month time frame. Methodological guidance was sought from the phenomenology literature, with the ideas from Husserl and Heideggar providing shape for the interpretive framework. The analysis of data utilized Colaizzi's (1978) seven procedural steps. For the purposes of this paper the authors have selected to focus only on the findings of this study. Two major themes emerged from the conversations with women. Patients described nurses as being engaged or detached with their nursing care. These themes will be explicated in this paper. In the light of these dominant themes the nursing literature around engagement and detachment are examined. The implications for nursing practice are discussed.