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Keywords:

  • nursing;
  • nursing models;
  • person-centred practice;
  • personhood;
  • relationships;
  • values

Person-centred practice is a recurring theme in gerontological nursing literature. While there are many descriptive accounts of attempts at developing person-centred practice, in reality, there are few studies that identify the benefits of this way of working. Thus far, systematic research into person-centred nursing practice is poorly developed. This paper aims to explore the concept of person-centredness and person-centred practice in order to add clarity to discussions about the term in the context of gerontological nursing. This literature-based exploration discusses the meaning of the word ‘person’ and the way this word is translated into person-centred practice. It is argued that there are four concepts underpinning person-centred nursing: (i) being in relation; (ii) being in a social world; (iii) being in place and (iv) being with self. The articulation of these concepts through existing models of person-centred practice in nursing raises the recurring themes of knowing the person, the centrality of values, biography, relationships, seeing beyond the immediate needs and authenticity. There is a need for further research and development work in gerontological nursing to distinguish between person-centred practice and good quality care for older people.