S. Roach


Caring: Most Authentic Criterion of Humanness

Meaning of Caring

Sister Simone Roach, (1992), states that caring is the human mode of being . Roach (1992) discusses how people in healthcare professions care for others not because they are required to do so by their jobs, but because they are human beings and this trait of caring is intrinsic to all humans . According to Roach (1992) caring is the underlying concept that forms the basis of what nurses do each and every day.

Entailed in caring as the human mode of being are:

  1. The capacity of the power to care
  2. The calling forth of this capacity
  3. Responsivity of being called to someone, something who/which matters
  4. The actualization of the capacity or the power to care
  5. The activity or performance of caring as manifested in specific caring behaviours

Roach (1992) has tried to define caring from the theological point of view, related to love, putting an emphasis on involvement in the other individual.

Constructs of Caring

Roach (1992) reviews the various caring theories and presents her theory from both philosophical and theological points of view; conceptualizing the notion of caring with five categories:

  1. Ontological – Ontology is an inquiry into the being of something and into its range of possibilities. The ontological question asks, What is the “being” of caring? What is caring as such?
  2. Anthropological – Anthropology poses the question, What does it mean to be a caring person?
  3. Ontical – “Onticology” refers to the study of some entity in its actual relation with other entities (Macquarrie, 1955). In this category, functional and ethical aspects of caring are included. What is a nurse doing when he or she is caring? What obligations are entailed in caring?
  4. Epistemological – Epistemology is concerned with ways of knowing. Questions in this category  include, Can one know caring? How is caring known?
  5. Pedagogical – the pedagogical category is concerned with teaching and learning, and the strategies required to further specific learning needs and goals. How is caring learned and taught?

Roach (1992) posed an interesting question during her work on caring. This question is: What is a nurse actually doing when he or she is caring? The six C’s of caring have been developed by Simone Roach (2002) in response to this question. These six C’s are described as attributes of caring that aid in identifying the specific caring behaviours that a nurse engages in when providing care for a patient . The six C’s are as follows:

Attributes of Caring


Compassion means to be with another in their suffering. It is empathy and sensitivity to human pain and joy that allows one to enter into the experience of another. It is the understanding of whom that person truly is for whom one is caring. According to Simone Roach, “With compassion, one becomes a colleague of humanity” (Roach, 1992). Compassion is an essential component of the nurse patient relationship.


Competence is acquiring and using evidence-based scientific and humanistic knowledge and skill in the application of therapeutic interventions in the current practice of nursing. Competence is reflected in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning. It is the knowledge of the role of the nurse in the health care delivery systems of the hospital and the community.


Conscience directs moral, ethical and legal decision-making. It motivates us to increase the knowledge and skills needed to respond appropriately to moral, ethical and legal issues faced by one and others. It directs us to adhere to the standards of professional nursing practice. It directs us to respond to social injustices. It is the increased awareness of local, national and global health concerns and current trends in health care that affect all ages and populations. It is the sense of accountability, responsibility and leadership for patient care.


Confidence is trust in one’s ability to care for others. It is the belief that our skilled, professional presence can make a difference. Confidence is necessary to effectively implement the roles of the nurse as caregiver, teacher, counsellor, advocate, leader, manager and researcher. Confidence in our own ability to create caring environments serves as a catalyst for change. Confidence empowers both us and others to define and accomplish goals. Confidence is developed through the successful utilization of knowledge and experience.


Commitment is maintaining and elevating the standards and obligations of the nursing profession and assuring the delivery of excellence in nursing care. Commitment is the loyal endeavor to devote ourselves to the welfare of patients. It assures that caring will be part of every nurse patient interaction. It is a conscious effort to grow within the nursing profession through dedication to continuing education, life-long learning, and becoming more skilled, socially conscious, ethical, politically competent and caring.


Comportment is the professional presentation of us as nurses to others in behaviour, attitude, appearance, dress and language that communicate a caring presence. It includes the need for self-awareness, awareness of impact of self on others, and accepting responsibility for our actions. This extends to responsibility for the healthcare environment and the behaviour of others who contribute to it.


Creativity is having a vision of how nursing care can be, and making it better. Creativity in nursing requires thinking reflectively, critically and imaginatively to create healing environments and enhance care-giving practices. It requires the nurse to develop the qualities of envisioning, risk-taking, openness and resourcefulness. Creativity results in integrating new insights into existing nursing knowledge and awareness. It creates the potential for the nurse to individualize care and embrace change.

Application and Significance of Caring in Nursing

            Caring is the core and basic foundation for nursing practice. (skills, techniques, specialized language are the trim)

Caring is the vehicle through which nurses interact with patients and assist them to cope with suffering, to find meaning in their experiences, to promote health and wellness and to die with dignity.

Caring is action that nurtures; action that fosters growth, recovery, health and protection of those who are vulnerable. Caring is the empowering of those for whom care is given (Roach, 1997).

Caring  is the framework through which we as nurses implement the art and science of professional practice.




















Roach, M. S. (1984). Caring: The Human Mode of Being, Implications for Nursing. Ottawa: The Canadian Hospital Association Press. ISBN 0-7727-3740-1


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