Jo gives truly personalised, kind care to our whole family

Lesley Chan has nominated children's respiratory nurse specialist Jo O'Toole for putting a smile on her daughter Amélie's face and offering unwavering support despite her own battle with cancer

Mum Lesley Chan has nominated her daughter’s ‘wonderful and courageous’ respiratory specialist nurse for the comfort, support and compassion she has shown the family, even while terminally ill.

Jo O’Toole has looked after Amélie, who has a rare syndrome, for about four years. ‘Jo makes me feel safe knowing that she knows our girl so well,’ says Lesley.

‘Jo has stayed after her shift finished many times to sit with my family and provide comfort and compassionate care,’ says Lesley. 

‘She is always positive and provides comforting words to keep me positive, and often provides some adult company in a lonely world in which we are in hospital a lot. 
Lesley appreciates how Jo has always included Amélie's three siblings and always asks about each one. ‘

More importantly she remembers their stories and journeys and will ask for updates months later,’ says Lesley. ‘The fact that she can remember all the finer details of previous visits shows that she truly listens and cares about all our family and not just Amélie.’Jo rings home to provide updates, chases every result and always finds the family in A&E. 

‘And she makes a plan,’ says Lesley, adding: ‘Jo then checks on us later and ensures the nursing teams are following the plan.’ Jo arranged all their IVs for home, keeping the family at home together and Amelie as well as she can be.’

Fun and laughter

Jo’s sense of fun has been invaluable. ‘She makes us all laugh. She has a silly dance and wears a smile 24/7. Amélie is profoundly deaf and partially sighted and so she relies on facial expression and Jo knows how to raise a giggle and bring her sense of humour out every time. She never fails. 

‘We are never made to feel rushed and she stays hours after she should have gone home. I've often said 'go home Jo your family need you' she always replies 'my girls are grown ups and Jim won't mind he knows what I'm like'.

Having been ordered by doctors to retire from her role at Royal Manchester Children's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after more than 38 years as a children’s nurse – she was not expected to see Christmas - Jo visited Lesley to say goodbye as they work at the same trust. ‘She said she could not go without a hug. She was so calm and smiled throughout. In fact I’ve never seen her without her smile. 

‘I don't know how we will manage without her no longer overseeing Amélie's care and I will feel empty without Jo in all our lives. I sincerely hope Jo gets the recognition she deserves for being so special and that her exceptional care is acknowledged before she passes away. It would be a wonderful way to say thank you to Jo for delivering the truly personalised, kind care all nurses should.

‘What a credit to the NHS she is.'

Jo is still volunteering on her ward twice a week, playing with children and giving parents a break. She says: ‘I have loved every minute of my 39 years of nursing – the children, their families and the people I have worked with.

‘It made me very tearful to think that someone wrote those words about me. You have to give the care you would want for your family – no half measures. It was so lovely of Lesley to do it and it has been lovely for my family to read it and see me being recognised.'


The RCNi Patient’s Choice Award is sponsored by Yakult and supported by Smooth Radio