What is transition?
In healthcare, transfer is the word used to describe the process of moving from child to adult health services.
Transition is a gradual process which involves planning and preparing for this move.
It gives you and everyone involved in your care, time to discuss the best adult services for you and to ensure that you are ready for this move.
Why do I need to move?
As you become a young adult, an adult service will provide the best all round care for your needs.
All young people with long term conditions who will require continued care and treatment beyond 16 years will need transition to adult services.
This is likely to be at the hospital but some young people will have their care and follow up in primary care if more appropriate.
If you are a care leaver you will have the services of a personal assistant up to the age of 25 years to support you with the transition into all adult services.
When will it happen?
Transition discussions usually start around year 9 or 10 but this will depend on time of diagnosis and your individual needs. Active preparation of a move to adult services should continue through to 16 years and ensure you have all necessary skills to function independently.
For children with special education needs or disability the transition process will be guided by needs of the young person, the family and linked to the services available.
As a care leaver; you will receive a health passport at the age of 18 years with health information that you will need to be aware of as an adult.
If you are a parent or carer of a young person with a learning disability you can start accessing your GP for annual reviews after aged 14 years. This will enable GP to start to get to know the family so at point of transfer from paediatrics you will have a network of support within primary care.
How do I know what to expect from adult services?
Part of the transition programme is letting you know what adult service is like and what to expect and what are the differences.
Some services offer joint clinics with adults services, some offer visits to the adult clinic and wards before moving on.
What else can I do to get ready?
Your current healthcare team will be able to give you help and support to prepare you for transition. It may be helpful for you to prepare by:
Learning about your condition and your treatment.
Learning how to order your medications.
Practice arranging appointments with your consultant, GP, physiotherapist or dietitian.
Get to know your general practice (GP) services.
You may wish to start seeing your GP for common illnesses. This will give you a chance to get to know your GP team, and for your GP to find out more about you and your medical conditions.
Care leavers should attend your last health assessment offered to you at the age of 18 years to discuss your health needs and services involved
Some clinics will offer joint appointments with the adult doctors to ensure smooth transition. Ask your consultant or nurse specialist about this option.
There are programmes such as readysteadygo.net developed to help you get ready and prepare you for managing your condition more independently.
If you think you or a young person you care for needs transition to adult services and no one has mentioned it to you please ask your doctor or nurse at your next clinic appointment.