Although there is increasing recognition within health and social care policy that relationships are central within ‘people work’, little attention is given to exploring the nature and purpose of these within everyday care practice. Social pedagogues appreciate that human relationships, in all their complexity, are intrinsically valuable and, therefore, central to everyday care practice. This article explores human encounters as the foundation of relational practice, and we discuss how the space for true encounter incorporates spiritual care and a movement from dependence to interdependence. It proposes that everyday care practice is best understood as a series of human encounters that requires courage to embrace the complexity and uncertainty of encountering the essential humanity of those we care for. In order to do so, practitioners need to develop moral integrity, enabling them to navigate situations of care without fixed recipes. Drawing on perspectives from care ethics and the Nordic care tradition, this article contextualises the discussion within the authors’ extensive care practice experience and, in focusing on human encounters as the basis of relational care, presents implications for practitioners in diverse everyday care contexts.