Reflective accounts

Nurse-patient relationships

A CPD article improved Georgina O’Reilly-Foley’s knowledge of developing effective therapeutic relationships with patients.

A CPD article improved Georgina O’Reilly-Foley’s knowledge of developing effective therapeutic relationships with patients


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What was the nature of the CPD activity, practice-related feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

The article emphasised the importance of nurses establishing effective therapeutic relationships with patients, and provided information about how these relationships can be maintained.

What did you learn from the CPD activity, feedback and/or event and/or experience in your practice?

As a newly qualified nurse, I often feel under pressure to complete all my nursing tasks on time, such as undertaking patient observations, administering medicines and assessing patients’ skin integrity. Reading the article reminded me of the importance of interacting with patients and developing therapeutic relationships with them, which can benefit patients’ well-being and the healthcare system. 

Before reading the article, I was unaware of the Fundamentals of Care Framework, which describes five essential relational elements for establishing an effective nurse-patient relationship: trust, focus, anticipate, know and evaluate. I found it useful to see this framework presented and examples given of how to apply it to practice.

How did you change or improve your practice?

The article emphasised the importance of communicating with, listening to and spending time with patients and their families, which ensures they feel valued and can improve their experience of care.

An example of how the article has improved my practice was when I was caring for a patient with autism. He had a chest infection, experienced difficulty breathing and felt scared. He was unable to speak but could understand what was being said to him. Once he had received treatment, his mother asked me if it was possible for a healthcare assistant to remain with her son during the night – she was concerned that if he was alone he would attempt to run away because of his confusion and anxiety. 

I was able to arrange for a healthcare assistant to remain with her son for the next 12 hours. When I informed his mother of this, she was grateful that someone had listened to her. Responding to her concerns and meeting her son’s needs meant we could develop a trusting relationship.

The article has improved my confidence and reminded me that while completing nursing tasks is important, developing therapeutic nurse-patient relationships should remain a priority in healthcare.

How is this relevant to the Code? Select one or more themes: Prioritise people, Practise effectively, Preserve safety, Promote professionalism and trust

The article was relevant to The Code theme of prioritising people, which states that nurses must treat people as individuals and deliver the fundamentals of care effectively. The Fundamentals of Care Framework outlined in the article can be used to assist nurses to provide such care and meet patients’ individual needs.

Georgina O’Reilly-Foley is a staff nurse at Southend University Hospital, Southend-on-Sea


This reflective account is based on NS884 Feo R, Rasmussen P, Wiechula R et al (2017) Developing effective and caring nurse-patient relationships. Nursing Standard. 31, 28, 54-62 

Write your own reflective account

You can gain a certificate of learning by reading a Nursing Standard CPD article and writing a reflective account. To write a reflective account for Nursing Standard, use the NMC reflective accounts form. Complete the four questions about a CPD article you have read, writing about 700 words in total.

The authors of reflective accounts that are published in Nursing Standard receive a £50 book token. Details of how to submit your reflective account for publication are available here.

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