Nursing policy and healthcare reform are focusing on two, interconnected areas: person-centred care and fundamental care. Each initiative emphasises a positive nurse–patient relationship. For these initiatives to work, nurses require guidance for how they can best develop and maintain relationships with their patients in practice. Although empirical evidence on the nurse–patient relationship is increasing, findings derived from this research are not readily or easily transferable to the complexities and diversities of nursing practice. This study describes a novel methodological approach, called holistic interpretive synthesis (HIS), for interpreting empirical research findings to create practice-relevant recommendations for nurses. Using HIS, umbrella review findings on the nurse–patient relationship are interpreted through the lens of the Fundamentals of Care Framework. The recommendations for the nurse–patient relationship created through this approach can be used by nurses to establish, maintain and evaluate therapeutic relationships with patients to deliver person-centred fundamental care. Future research should evaluate the validity and impact of these recommendations and test the feasibility of using HIS for other areas of nursing practice and further refine the approach.