Advocating for your client

One of a nurse’s roles is to advocate for client-centred care plans. The following provides answers to questions nurses have around advocating for clients’ choices:

What does the College mean when you say "a nurse is accountable for advocating for the client’s choice?"

We mean that since you provide care that addresses clients’ wishes or needs, you are aware when a client’s wishes are not being met. This puts you in a position to advocate for the client’s wishes. Part of advocating is assessing that the client has all the information needed to make informed choices. Advocating means talking about the client’s wishes with the right people, with the aim of honouring those wishes. Advocacy should involve communicating in a way that supports the best care possible for the client, while helping the health care team understand the client’s wishes.

Strategies for advocating include:

  • discussing the issue within the client’s circle of care to make the client’s wishes known. The discussion should focus on meeting the client’s wishes with the resources available.

  • bringing the issue and a plan to decision-makers in the organization who are most appropriate to help and implement the request.

There are limits to client choice. For instance, clients do not have the right to make a choice that could risk the safety of others. Client choice is also restricted by the resources available in the particular situation.

How do I make sure I am meeting the needs of the client?

You can use nursing frameworks, theories and/or processes to assess the client’s needs and then evaluate if these needs are being met according to the care plan. The client (and family) should be an active partner in developing a client-centred care plan and determining if their needs are being met according to the care plan. You can review the Professional Standards for more information.

What if I do not agree with the client’s choice?

You may personally disagree with choices made by a client. However, your nursing role is to provide the client with safe and objective care and to make sure the client is able to make informed decisions. To learn more about dealing with these types of situations, read this question and answer about objecting to care on moral grounds.   


Page last reviewed January 25, 2016