The 6 C’s of Nursing

I wanted to write a bit (turned into an essay haha) about the 6 C’s of nursing and how important they are. It seems that some nurses may of lost their way, lost their motivaiton and love for the role of the nurse. With the tough times of staff shortages, cuts and paycap, I can see how easily this can be done. So I wanted to talk about this and hopefully bring back some passion in peoples hearts.

Care: This should be the key one people thing of when we ask about the 6 C’s. Care… But what does that mean to people? It can mean a variety of things to each and one of you. To me, care is exactly what it says on the tin. To physically, mentally, emotionally, holistically want to help someone else in need. There are many definitions of ‘care:’

Noun: “The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something”

Verb: “Feel concern or interest; attach importance to something” (Oxford dictionary 2017). 

To me, this comes naturally, I am a genuinely caring person, probably too much! I have a lot of empathy for others and really feel their pain when they are in pain. I can’t do enough for the patients I look after, I do go above and beyond for patients, it’s the one thing I know I am good at. Because it must be so tough being in hospital, without your loved ones, alone and feeling like utter rubbish. All you want is your own bed and a decent cup of tea (or coffee or any beverage of choice). The last thing you want on top of this is a nurse that is stressed and has not got time to CARE for you. To speak to you in a professional manner, to show they care and want to help you. A nurse that is huffing and puffing because you’re not well and pressed your buzzer for another sick bowl. You are that patients nurse, you have just become their hope of getting back to good health and back to their family.

Compassion: Goes hand in hand with care. You have to show you have feelings towards that patient. To show you’re human and can connect with your patient. Show the feelings of sympathy for what they are going through right now. It doesn’t matter what happened at home when your toaster blew up and set off the smoke alarm. It matters what that patient is thinking and feeling and how YOU can make them feel better at least. If your mind is at home still, this will distract you from your patient. 

Competence: This is your ability to do your job. Are you up to date with your training? Have you been trained on that hoist you’re about to use on Patient X? Are you confident enough to give that injection and know it’s the correct dose? If your unsure or uneasy about something don’t do it. This is how mistakes are made and patient care put at risk. You wouldn’t rewire your electrics at home unless you were 100% confident and trained to do so, so why put your patient at risk? And lets be honest, if you haven’t got the first two C’s (care and compassion) you probably wouldn’t care if your patient is at risk or not, you will just chance it… If that’s the case, maybe find a nice office job where peoples lives are not at risk. I can understand with the pressure of staff shortages and how people feel they HAVE to do something because of this, but is it worth it? Get help, get trained, call the oncall doctor for advice, talk to your ward doctor for advice, the ward manager… anything that is going to help you in that situation you’re unsure of. As student nurses we must work with our mentors and not work outside of our competencies. Do not just do something because your mentor has told you to, who says they aren’t wrong? Ask questions all the time, know why you are doing something and know you can do it before making a mistake. This isn’t paint by numbers, this is a persons life that could be at risk if you get it wrong. Stay safe and in your limits. Protect your patient, always. 

Communication: You have to communicate with your patient. This is something I have, in the past few months seen fail the patient. To be honest, these were very good nurses and healthcare assistants, I just feel that there isn’t enough training on communcication with individuals with various needs. I was assisting with a patient with dementia, they had warned me he gets very agressive and ‘lashes’ out. So I said I would come in and help distract him and talk to him wilst they assisted him with his personal hygiend care. I was surprised to find the way they communicated with this patient was VERY different to little patient X they had just been to (Patient x had capacity). There was a lack of communication, they did not explain to the patient properly what they were doing as they were doing it. So in the patients eyes they were just being rolled about and soapy water thrown at them. They just started undressing the patient / washing without telling the patient as they were doing it. THIS is why the patient gets aggresive. They were terrified. It’s bad enough that they are in a room they don’t recognise, with people they don’t know, now their dignity has just gone out the window with their clothing. So, I was then explaining to the patient as it was going on, what they were doing. I was calm, I talked to the patient in short simple sentances calmy, and told them they were safe, that the nurse/HCA were just washing them ‘just for a moment, if thats ok’ which seemed to calm the patient down. The staff said the patient was much better and calmer this time round than before when they have been to him. They didn’t have any scratches on them and no swear words (in the end). These were well trained, good staff. Fantastic staff. I was so shocked to see that they didn’t know how to communicate properly with a patient with dementia. This is common I think. People are scared of the unknown. I feel there needs to be A LOT more extra training for staff to communicate properly with these patients. And this is possibly something I will look into once qualified. Getting this out there. Moral of the story, talk to your patient, ALWAYS. If they don’t understand, find ways to commuicate through picture cards, writing, drawing, getting an interperter. Anything to help your patient understand you and you them. 

Courage: I found a great quote for this: 

“strength in the face of pain or grief” (Oxford dictionary 2017).
We think of courage as being brave. But as a nurse, every day you have courage, to face the pain, to face the sadness of sick patients you look after. Everyone is affected differently in every way and its the courage that gets you over it. It’s the courage that helps you go into that patients room, knowing that patient may of passed away and you’re the person to find them. The courage to talk to family memebers about the patients condition (where acceptable). The courage to do something incredible even though you are scared. We all have our fears in life. But it’s the courage that lets us face our fears and allows us to conquer them. You need the courage to be open and honest as a nurse. Admit mistakes and reflect and learn. To have the courage to stand up and tell a doctor they have got it wrong. YOU know your patient more than them, YOU know what’s what. If in doubt question it. Have the courage to be an advocate for that patient.
And for nurses that are struggling to get up in the morning and face another 12 hour shift on the ward, when it’s short staffed and feeling like hell, you have the courage to get up and go. You put your nurse face on and you do it. You face that day and you conquer it like a boss. You do that because you know that without you, that day will be even worse and your patients suffer. Why do you do it though? Because you have the first two of the 6 C’s above. You CARE and you have Compassion even though times are tough. You are that patients saviour. You are the nurse we need to multiply, clone and put in every healthcare setting. We need more courage like this.

Commitment: This links with the courage part. You have to be commited to the role. Those nurses as discussed above, the ones who go to work every day despite knowing it’s going to be a hard day have commitment. I feel like hope should be an added word here too. They have commitment because they hope that it’s going to get better. That it’s just a bad day and tomorrow is a fresh day. It is being dedicated to your role, patients, colleagues. Attending the training on your days off because you know you need it to provide the best care for your patients. Student nurses, we are commited to this degree. We knuckle down, revise, learn, grow, follow advice from mentors, lectures, attend our madatory training and show up. 12 hour shifts are long, colleagues and patients slowly become your family. You see them more than your own family. It takes commitment to do that. We do this because we want to be that nurse as above… we want to be the nurse that is commited to her job, for the love, care and compassion of it.

So that’s it folks. The 6 C’s and what they mean to me. My own opions on this. I’m sure everyone has their own views and what it means to them 🙂 But these are so important in nursing and we need to remind ourselves of them sometimes. We need to remember why we wanted to become nurses sometimes. We all need a little motivation to get us through a hard shift or difficult situation. No one said nursing was easy but if we can reflect, improve and remember why we are here, the rest will always follow.


3 thoughts on “The 6 C’s of Nursing

  1. Hi Claire,

    Thank you so much for this post. I really needed to hear this today, particularly the part about courage. I am so passionate about my patients and them receiving the best care, but having raised care concerns with my team, I was met with hostility and bullying for trying to change things so the patients can receive better care. These were only little changes but I felt they could mean the world to my patients. Thank you for reminding me of why I became a nurse and why I strive every day to give my patients, excellent care that they deserve 🙂


    1. Morning, Aw I’m so sorry you’ve had such hostility! That’s not ok 😦 at all!
      Keep trying though. Sometimes you need to quietly do these little things bit by bit. Slowly spoon feed them in so they get used to the change 😅 xx


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