Nursing is commonly characterized by the process of caring in the context of nurse-patient interactions in clinical and non-clinical settings. This interactive context of nursing however should not be seen to only involve encounters of an interpersonal nature but also must be extended to include interactions set in a social-relational context. (The growing realization that most health problems in our society cannot be fully understood as only an individual phenomena lends support to this notion.) Continuity and quality of time are described as being important aspects of nursing, which make possible a holistic and unified approach to care that is quite unique to nursing. A patient-centred approach to nursing is contrasted with an illness/disease-based approach. Growing recognition of the positive outcomes of an approach to nursing which is responsive to patients (rather than primarily focused on illness/disease) suggests that patterns of nursing care should be more closely aligned with this model. The authors believe this can be accomplished through a supportive emotional atmosphere of interpersonal and social-relational involvement. The modes by which nurses will be accountable to the community will then necessarily need to reflect this broader, more inclusive context.