There is a growing concern within the international literature that fundamental cares, described as physical, psychosocial and relational needs, are being neglected, resulting in a failure to provide respectful patient-centred care. This is an important issue for nursing education. Fundamental cares (as skills/tasks) are generally taught early in undergraduate nursing degrees. Students transition throughout their nursing degree, and are continually subjected to influences, particularly within the acute care context that hinder their ability to incorporate fundamental cares – the platform upon which all care is based.
The curative focus of the biomedical model continues to influence nursing education about acute care. In practice, evolving technology and specialised knowledge and skills are often prioritised over fundamental care, meaning there is less time to comfort and listen to patients’ concerns.
With emphasis on the ‘physical body’, nursing students learn how to work ‘on the body’ through medicine, science and practice, whereas fundamental care connects with patients’ experiences of their ‘lived body’. In addition, highly technical and specialised nursing is seen as more prestigious than fundamental patient cares within practice. The delivery of some aspects of fundamental cares by healthcare assistants further devalues the perception of a nurse’s role in this care.
In this presentation we argue that Nurse Educators need to critique the teaching and learning of fundamental cares, and their importance in patient-centred care. We will offer suggestions of how students can be better prepared to continue to prioritise fundamental care as they transition to newly registered nurses.
Key words: Fundamental cares; acute care; undergraduate nursing education