In this article, a foundation is formulated for an ethic of professional care, in which pity and honour play an important role. The authors argue that sincere pity is crucial in the relationship between those who are in need of care and those who provide care, as this capacity and readiness to be moved by the mere presence of the elderly allows care providers and care recipients to meet as equals, thereby providing a focus for the care. This situation generates an opportunity to respect and honour the care recipient. It does not involve ‘honouring’ the social contributions of those who are in need of care; it involves respect for the fact that they are people, just as the care provider is a person. The authors conclude that the combination of pity for and the recognition of those who are very old and in need of care would allow for a more humane caring relationship. The practise of being moved and the practise of honour give rise to an integral political-ethical approach to care within which to chart a professional ethic of care.