• Providing high quality nursing care is the vision of nursing. The literature has revealed gaps between the perspectives of patients and nurses regarding the quality of nursing care.
• The purpose of this study was to investigate how individuals with chronic illnesses perceive the quality of nursing care in order to enhance the quality of care.
• The participants were 11 Icelandic individuals, aged 39–80 years with various chronic illnesses.
• Phenomenology was the research approach and in-depth dialogues were used.
• Five themes emerged: nurses who provided high quality nursing care, the effects of high quality nursing care, the lack of good quality nursing care and its effects, ancillary factors, and the art of being a patient.
• Based on the findings I conclude that professional caring is the most important part of quality of care as perceived by individuals with chronic illnesses.