The number of advanced nursing roles dedicated to the care and management of patients with chronic, long-term Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) has increased, particularly in the UK. However, studies reporting effectiveness and scope of practice remain extremely limited. This paper focuses on specialist or advanced nursing practice from the perception of patients and their families living with IBD. One hundred and thirty-one qualitative descriptions of the perceived difference made by specialist nurses to the care of IBD patients were received from members of the UK National Association for Crohn's Disease and Colitis following invited nominations in support of its Nursing Award. These qualitative descriptions were analysed thematically. Two main categories of themes emerged: role behaviours/skills and personal qualities/attributes. Twenty-four role behaviours and 12 personal attributes were identified. In contrast with literature on advanced nursing roles which stresses technical competence, findings from this study suggest that patients perceive support, advice, caring, empathy and disease management to be of particular importance to their care.