Health transition resources

This page provides guidance and resources for delivering an effective transition from children's to adults' health services. We highlight five key determinants that ensure young people are provided with high quality care throughout the transition process.
Last modified
21 March 2019

This advice has been captured within Facing the Future: Standards for ongoing health needs

1. Develop a person-centred transition plan that is developmentally appropriate and is regularly reviewed

In her blog post, Dr Jacqueline Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Transition to Adulthood at NHS England, outlines the importance of providing developmentally appropriate transition plans for young people; she writes:

Putting young people at the centre of well planned, integrated and supported transition enables them, and where appropriate those who care for them, to stay in touch with the teams that look after them. Consequently young people are more likely to carry on with their treatment, and continue to develop self-management of their condition.

This Developmentally Appropriate Healthcare Toolkit gives practical suggestions about how healthcare can be tailored to young people's needs as they develop and change through adolescence into young adulthood (ie during the transition process). The toolkit is designed to support everyone working in the NHS, from clinicians to chief executives, to promote the health of young people and to play their part in making healthcare work for this age group. 

The following are self management tools:

  • Ask 3 Questions (PDF) - designed for patients to empower and encourage their involvement in healthcare decisions
  • My Health Passport - an online tool for young people to access their medical information, which can then be taken to healthcare visits to help with discussions and identify where there are gaps in the young person's knowledge
  • Explain Me - with a 'Your Issues' form, a useful prompt to encourage young people to ask questions and issues

2. Follow good practice and existing guidelines

We encourage health professionals to use existing guidance to develop transition care plans that meet the needs of young people with their consent and ensure confidentiality and are regularly reviewed as they grow up.

Our Facing the Future: Standards for ongoing health needs (2018) states: "Service planners to ensure that there is a designated person within the child health service who is responsible for ensuring that developmentally appropriate transitional care is provided and coordinated by both child and adult services."

The NICE guideline (NG43), Transition from children’s to adults’ services for young people using health or social care services provides overarching principles for health and social care providers and practitioners. It outlines how transition planning and support should be provided for young people before, during and after their transition. The transition process is explained in BMJ’s summary of NICE guidance, which provides practical advice for clinicians to improve young people’s engagement with services.

The Care Act: Transition from childhood to adulthood (SCIE) states: "If a child, young carer or an adult caring for a child is likely to have needs when they, or the child they care for, turns 18, the local authority must assess them if it considers there is ‘significant benefit’ to the individual in doing so. This is regardless of whether the child or individual currently receives any services."

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) resources help local authority staff, social workers, young people and carers plan for transition between child and adult care services. 

In 2014, the Care Quality Commission published From the pond into the sea (PDF), which outlines how transition planning is incorporated within CQC inspection frameworks and ratings. The report finds that only 50% of 180 young people and parents questioned had received support from a lead professional during the transition process. 

We have collated examples of best practice in delivering transition healthcare services.

3. Involve young people and their families in decisions about their care

Guidance indicates that young people and their families should be involved in the development of their transition care plans. Young people and their families must be provided with appropriate resources and support to guide them through the transition process.

These top tips (PDF) are for professionals who support young people to participate in their EHC (Education Health and Care) plan.

Young people can be signposted to online resources and services, such as Youth Access.

Find out more about what young people think about transition in these experiences collected by RCPCH&Us.

4. Share information effectively between child and adult services

To ensure that there is an effective transition process, there should be regular communication between children’s and adults’ services, and information should be shared via agreed protocols. The young person’s General Practitioner should be involved throughout the process, particularly in situations where there is no equivalent adult service. Ideally, there should be a nominated lead to coordinate the development and implementation of the transition care plan in both child and adult services.

Where appropriate, information should be shared with external agencies that the young person engages with. Good transition plans take a holistic look at the needs of the young person, including aspects of education and employment. 

The Royal College of Nursing has developed practical guidance for nursing staff on adolescent transition care, which uses a national clinical pathway framework.

The Royal College of Physicians has developed resources and guidance for the care of 16-24 year olds in their Acute Care Toolkit 13. Their report Why young adults need better healthcare, highlights the need for young adults and adolescents to be recognised and suggestions improvements for the clinical care provided to this group.

5. Commissioners and service planners play an important role

Commissioners and/or service planners should provide resource to support transition planning and monitor the effectiveness of transition services to drive improvements.

The following guidance for commissioners has been developed:

Webinar - ensuring high quality care

Jointly hosted by RCPCH, Young People's Health Special Interest Group and Royal College of Physicians members, advises health professionals providing developmentally appropriate care for young people transitioning to adult services.

All RCPCH webinars are available on Compass, our learning management system - log in to access.

Condition-specific resources

Asthma

  • Asthma UK - information and resources for young people including a 'checklist' of questions for health professionals

Autism

Cystic fibrosis

Diabetes

  • Diabetes UK - a guide for young people moving into adult care (PDF)

Disability

Down syndrome

Epilepsy

Gastrointestinal disease

Heart disease

HIV

Mental health

Renal

Rheumatology

  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis - advice for parents and young people on the transition from paediatric to adult rheumatology care
  • Versus Arthritis - information for young people on living with arthritis, including advice on accessing healthcare, school / university, emotions and relationships

SEND (special educational needs and disability)

Disclaimer

RCPCH have been notified that the above are examples of good health transition resources and these will be reviewed on a regular basis. Sharing these examples does not equate to formal RCPCH endorsement.

Please get in touch if there are other resources for sharing: health.policy@rcpch.ac.uk