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Teenagers with complex health needs lack support as they approach adulthood

8 June 2014

The findings from our recent review show that young people with complex health needs do not always receive the necessary care and support when they move on to adult care services.

The transition process can be a vulnerable time for young people and their families. During this period, they stop receiving health services that they may have had since a young age (such as care to support mobility, breathing, swallowing or pain) and move on to equivalent adult services which can be structured and funded differently.

Our findings

While our review found many committed professionals who provide excellent care, there needs to be a system-wide change, with commissioners and providers of health and social care working together at every level.

Some of the problems we found include:

  • children's services stopping the care they provide before the equivalent adult services have started.
  • families feeling confused and distressed by the lack of information and support given to them.

What next?

We have set four priorities.

  1. Commissioners and providers must listen to, involve and learn from young people and their families and understand what they want from their care.
  2. Existing national guidance must be followed so that young people are appropriately supported through their transition.
  3. GPs should be more involved at an earlier stage in planning for transition.
  4. Services must be tailored to meet the needs of young people transferring from children’s health services and include extra training for health care staff in caring for young people.

As part of our new approach to inspection, we will investigate transition arrangements when we visit primary and community health care services.

Our findings will be reflected in the overall rating (Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate) awarded to services.

More information about this review

During this review, we:

  • gathered experiences from young people between the ages of 14 and 25 who have experience of the transition process and their parents.
  • approached 100 clinical commissioning groups to connect with young people who have complex physical health needs.
  • involved health care professionals and commissioners who are involved in providing care during the transition process.
  • inspected 23 services that provide care for people during and following the period of transition.
Last updated:
9 June 2014