As people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities approach adulthood, they face a significant change - moving from children's healthcare to adult healthcare. This process, known as health transitions, is important for making sure these individuals continue to receive the care they need as they grow older.
Why are health transitions important?
Health transitions are important for several reasons. They help:
- Make sure ongoing care needs are met: Many people with SEN and disabilities need ongoing care for conditions like autism, learning disabilities, or physical impairments. Health transitions make sure their care is not interrupted and that their needs are met as they become adults.
- Prepare for adult life: Health transitions help people with SEN and disabilities get ready for the adult healthcare system. They learn about their medical conditions, develop self-management skills, and become advocates for their own care needs.
- Build relationships with adult care providers: Establishing relationships with adult care providers is important for people with SEN and disabilities. These relationships help build trust and understanding and ensure continuity of care.
Challenges of health transitions
Health transitions can sometimes be challenging because:
- The healthcare system can be complex: The healthcare system can be confusing and difficult to navigate, with different providers and specialities involved. Coordinating care across these entities can be challenging, leading to potential gaps in service and inconsistencies in treatment.
- Communication can be difficult: Communication breakdowns between children's and adult healthcare services can hinder the seamless transfer of information and understanding of individual needs. This can result in delays in care, misunderstandings, and potential safety concerns.
- Individual needs vary: Each individual with SEN and disabilities has unique circumstances and healthcare requirements. Tailoring transition plans to address these specific needs can be demanding, especially in a system that often operates with standardised procedures.
Strategies for successful health transitions
To overcome these challenges and ensure successful health transitions, several strategies can be implemented:
- Start planning early: Starting transition planning early, ideally around the age of 14, provides ample time to identify needs, build relationships, and develop a comprehensive transition plan.
- Involve the individual: Actively involving people with SEN and disabilities in their transition process empowers them to take ownership of their healthcare and make informed decisions. Their preferences, goals, and unique needs should guide the planning and implementation of the transition.
- Communicate effectively: Establishing clear communication channels between children's and adult healthcare services is crucial. Regularly sharing information, discussing individual needs, and addressing concerns promptly can ensure seamless care continuity.
- Create tailored plans: Developing individualised transition plans tailored to each person's circumstances and needs ensures that their specific requirements are addressed. These plans should be flexible and adaptable to accommodate changes in health status or preferences.
- Provide ongoing support: Providing ongoing support throughout the transition process and beyond is essential. This may include regular check-ins, educational resources, and assistance with navigating the adult healthcare system.
Who can help me?
For more information about health transitions, please contact the Plymouth has an Early Help and SEND Advice Line by calling 01752 668000, or emailing AccessEarlyHelp@plymouth.gov.uk.
Frequently asked questions
What are health transitions?
Health transitions refer to the process of transferring care from children's to adult healthcare services for individuals with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities.
Why are health transitions important?
Health transitions are crucial to ensure that individuals with SEN and disabilities receive seamless and coordinated care as they move from childhood to adulthood.
Plymouth's Local Offer is organised into four main categories covering the following age ranges:
- Early years (0 to 5 years old)
- Primary (5 to 11 years old)
- Secondary (11 to 18 years old)
- Preparing for adulthood
Is the information correct?
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