Transition to adult care

As you are getting older, you will be thinking more about the future. You might have heard people talking in the hospital about ‘transition’.

We use the term 'transition' to describe the process of planning, preparing and moving from children’s health care to adult health care.

Transition is a gradual process of change, which gives everyone time to make sure that young people and their families are prepared and feel ready to move to adult health care. This process sits alongside Devon County Council’s Preparing for Adulthood arrangements. Find out more here.

As you grow into a young adult, an adult service will be the best place for you to get the care that is right for your needs. The staff in children's services are experts in caring for babies, children and teenagers. The staff in adult services are the experts in caring for young adults, adults and older people.

By the time you are at the end of the transition process, you might feel that you have grown out of children’s services and be glad to move on to a more grown-up setting.

When should transition happen?

The process should start at around 13 years of age but will depend on individual circumstances.
The majority of children move from children's to adult's services when they are aged between 16 and 18.
Often young people will also be experiencing other transitions at a similar time, such as moving from secondary school to college, to university or starting work.

Who organises transition?

Usually, clinical nurse specialists or consultants take the ‘transition coordinator’ role, although other members of staff may be involved.You can discuss any queries or concerns with a member of your health care team or the paediatric liaison and transition nurse at the hospital. Please ask at your next health appointment “What is your plan for my transition?”

Preparing for transition

We know that approaching a move to adult care can be a scary time in a young person’s life. As you get older, you will start to take more responsibility for things like medicines and treatments, just as you take on more responsibility in other areas of life. Young people in adult services are generally seen as being independent. The transition process often involves making sure that you have all the skills necessary to feel comfortable in the adult health care service.

Families and carers

As a parent, this can be a difficult time for you. It can take time for you to get used to handing over some of the responsibility but we continue to value the role that families have in the health of young people.
Families will often be able to give young people tips on how to organise appointments, find out information, remember medicines and treatments and advice on what questions to ask during admission, ward rounds and clinics. Families can also support young people in developing independence and becoming more involved in their healthcare.

There might be some aspects of growing up with a medical condition or disability that have not been discussed with you and your young person. It might be that diagnosis was many years ago and information has changed.

You could have questions about how your young person’s condition might affect his or her adult life in relation to things like career choices, benefits, relationships or family planning.
It is a good idea for you to discuss these things with the healthcare team, who will be able to advise you or put you in contact with appropriate organisations that can help.

Support groups and charities can sometimes offer valuable support to young people and their families who are going through the transition process.

Supporting you

Here's what will happen:

  • A plan: You'll have a written ‘transition plan’. This plan outlines the timing of key phases of the transition process, learning about your condition, managing your condition, the expected time for the eventual transfer and details of any concerns, queries or requirements that you and your family have. At this hospital we use the ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ transition plans © Dr Arvind Nagra, University Hospital Southampton. Find out about it here. These are also available from your health care team. They are also available in Easy Read.
  • Joint appointments: You should receive information about the adult service. In many specialities, joint appointments between your paediatrician and your new doctor are arranged. That means you'll get to meet your new team before you leave children’s services.
  • Independence: You will be given a lot more independence. This means that you will need to learn about your condition so that you can be more involved in your care and make decisions for yourself. You will need to be able to give information about your condition and know how to keep yourself well. Although this can be scary, it is also good to have more control over your health and the care you are given.
  • Decision making: When you are asked to make decisions about your health, you will be given all the information you need to make the right choice. You can always ask questions and let staff know if you are not sure about anything. They will make sure that you understand everything that might be involved. 
  • Focusing on you: At the adult service, during appointments or admissions, doctors, nurses and other staff will spend more time talking to you than to your parents. You will still be allowed to take your parents with you to clinic appointments but you will be the one to talk about your health. Lots of adults take family members or friends along to important appointments for support.

More support

If you are feeling down, stressed or anxious about anything, there are a number of websites and apps that can provide information, advice, and support.

Devon SEND Local Offer

What is the SEND Local Offer?

Devon’s SEND Local Offer is the education, health and social care services and support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) from birth to 25.

More information

Patient information leaflets

We produce a wide range of leaflets which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital. 

We also produce these in different formats including large print, please contact the department you are visiting for more information.

Find out more

Useful videos

We have a wide range of videos which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital. 

Find out more

Last updated: November 15, 2022.