Aims and objectives - To present findings from the first stage of an exploratory study investigating nurses' understanding and facilitation of person-centred care within an acute medical ward. Background - The term ‘person-centred care’ is used frequently in healthcare policy and practice. However, the ways in which the concept is translated into everyday nursing care continue to present a challenge. Person-centred care has been explored extensively within the care of older people, people with dementia and people with a learning disability. Little empirical research has been conducted in acute ward settings. This study starts to address that gap. Design - The study used an action research approach. Methods - Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 14 nurses. Framework analysis was used to analyse the data. Results - Nurses had a clear understanding of person-centred care in the context of their work. They acknowledged the importance of relationships, personal qualities of staff and respecting the principles of person-centred care as they strived to provide safe, high-quality person-centred care. Conclusion - The examples of care given by the nurses in this study resonate with the ‘six Cs’ emphasised by the Chief Nursing Officer for England in 2012, acknowledge the motivation of nurses to provide person-centred care and will contribute to the ongoing debate about nursing practice. Relevance to clinical practice - In the light of recent criticisms of nursing and the implied erosion of public confidence in the provision of high-quality health care, it is important to recognise good practice and use the findings as a foundation for further and sustained development in providing person-centred care.