Your Child's Move (Transition) to Adult Care

What is transition?

As your son or daughter is getting older, you will be thinking more about their future. You may have heard people talking about ‘transition’.

In health care, we use the term ‘transition’ to describe the process of planning, preparing and moving from children’s health care to adult health care. Not all children need to go through transition- children and young people with ongoing complex needs benefit from this process- please speak to your healthcare professional to discuss further.

Transition is a gradual process of change, which gives everyone time to ensure that young people and their families are prepared and feel ready to make the move to adult health care.

The process should start at around 12 years of age but will depend on individual circumstances.

The exact timing of transition from children’s to adolescent or adult services varies from person to person. It also depends to a certain extent on which adult services are available.

Some young people move to a specialist adolescent unit at around 13 or 14 years old, but the majority move directly from children’s to adult services when they are aged between 16 and 18 years.

Often young people will also be experiencing other transitions at a similar time, such as moving from secondary school to sixth form college or starting work.

Every young person would benefit from an allocated member of staff who is responsible for organising their transition. If allocated, they will also be responsible for ensuring that both you and your teenager are supported throughout the process and receive all the preparation needed to feel ready to move to adult services.

Usually clinical nurse specialists or consultants take the ‘transition coordinator’ role although other members of staff may be involved in the process.

You can discuss any queries or concerns with any member of your teenager’s health care team or the Clinical Nurse Specialist at your hospital.

Patients should have a written ‘transition plan’, which outlines the timing of key phases of the transition process, the expected time for the eventual transfer and details of any specific concerns, queries or requirements that you and your teenager have in relation to the move to adult services. You and your teenager should receive information about the adult service, contact details for staff there, how the service is organised and how the adult services differ from our services.

It is important that both you and your teenager are comfortable with the transition and the new service. There may be a choice of which adolescent or adult service your teenager can transfer to, but this depends very much on their illness or condition.It might be possible for your team at Hospital or Community setting to arrange an informal visit to the adult service or organise other ways for you and your teenager to meet the new team and start to get to know them.

A visit to the new service can help all of you get used to travelling to the new hospital and find out where appointments are held or the location for tests and scans.

We know that approaching a move to adult care can be a scary time in a young person’s life. As they get older, they will start to take more responsibility for things like medicines and treatments, just as they take on more responsibility in other areas of life.

As a parent, this can be a difficult time for you as well. It can take time for you to get used to handing over some of the responsibility. Young people in adult services are generally seen as being independent. The transition process often involves ensuring that your teenager has all the skills necessary to feel comfortable in the adult health care service. However, it is important that your teenager continues to have your advice and support.

Health Professionals value the role that families have in the health of children and young people. Because of this, we feel that parents have a great deal of valuable experience to offer young people who are in the transition process.

Families can also support young people in gradually developing independence and becoming more involved in their health care. Topics for you and your teenager to think over and discuss might include:

  • learning the names of regular medicines, why they need them, how much to take and how often asking and answering questions about their health and treatments
  • seeing their doctor or nurse on their own, for part of clinic appointments or consultations
  • staying overnight in hospital without you sometimes
  • keeping track of hospital appointments
  • the ways that his or her health team can help your teenager feel ready to move to adult services

There might be some aspects of growing up with a medical condition or disability that have not been discussed with you and your teenager. For example, you may have questions about how your teenager’s condition might affect his or her adult life, in relation to things like career choices, benefits, relationships or family planning.

Support groups and charities can sometimes offer valuable support to young people and their families who are going through the transition process. It may also be useful to speak with other families of teenagers who are getting ready for adult services.

RSG Hello to Adult Services - TIER Network (

Young Minds (2020) Transferring from CAMHS to adult mental health services

  • Two bloggers share their experience. Information aimed at the young person.

Queen's Nursing Institute (2017) Transition from children's to adult community services

  • This online learning resource aims to improve the experience of a young person transitioning from children’s to adult community services by supporting community and primary care professionals.

Sickkids Good 2 Go Transition Program

  • My health Passport is a customized (Passport for Health (, wallet-size card that gives you instant access to your medical information. It can be used when you go to a new doctor or visit an emergency room.



NHS Statement

NHS England and NHS Improvement is developing a national framework for transition and their ambition is that ​​by 2028, no child or young person will be able to become lost in the gaps between children’s and adults services, and that their experience of moving between services is safe, well planned and prepared for and they feel supported and empowered to make decisions about their health and social care needs.

Page last updated on: 30th March 2023