• care;
  • caring;
  • nurse and patient perceptions;
  • quantitative and qualitative approaches

Care and caring have been identified as inherently difficult concepts to define, but many authors believe that care is the central and unifying core of nursing. It is vital that nurses understand what care is, with the current issues about measuring and justifying exactly what they do for patients in order to be clear about what good care is. If nurses are to constantly improve the care they give, they need to be clearer about how to care for patients. Nurses need to make sure that they are giving the patients what they want and not what the nurses want. This review of the literature explores nurses' perceptions of care and compares it with what patients want in terms of care. It also highlights some important and interesting differences between what patients and nurses perceive as good care.