Transition to Adult Services

Transition to Adult Services

Transitioning from a children’s hospital like Alder Hey to an adult hospital can be a daunting process, but our dedicated team will work with you to help make this journey comfortable and as smooth as possible.

Transition to adult services ensures that young people are able to access the most appropriate services according to their age, developmental needs, and the nature of their long term condition.

Our aim is to establish a good quality, safe, effective, and seamless transition to adult services, for children with complex long term conditions.

What is transition to adult services?

When children become adults, it is normal for them to make decisions for themselves and to lead a more independent life. Children’s health and care needs also change as they grow up.  Transition to adult services (transition), is the name given to the process of moving on from children’s to adult services. 

Transition is an important journey. Our team will work with you and your family to ensure that you get the support you need every step of the way. We will ensure that you and your family understand what is happening, feel confident, and in control.

Some young people with complex needs also have support from social care and special education. When this happens, we will work with these services to coordinate the different transitions.

Why do we need transition to adult services?

Transition is important to ensure that services are appropriate for your age and needs. If we didn’t have transition to adult services, adults would be nursed on the same wards as children, and those services would not be available.

What will happen during transition?

Transition is a gradual process. Young people and their families often need guidance and encouragement, but you shouldn’t feel rushed or unsupported. 

We can think of transition as a series of ten key steps. Let’s look at these steps together.

1. Identifying young people needing transition

Professionals will normally start talking to you and your family about your health needs, and transition to adult services, around the time of your 14th birthday. This will allow plenty of time for gradual planned transition. Sometimes, professionals will write a letter summarising your diagnosis and health needs, or we may put this information in a Health Information Passport, or Advance Care Plan. You should be given a copy of this information, have the opportunity to read it, and ask questions. This information should be updated as you progress through Transition.

2. Empowering young people, supporting parents

We will work with you, depending on your age and ability, to help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to keep healthy and well. We will give you the opportunity to talk about how your health needs may impact on your future including employment, independent living, sexuality and relationships. You can also discuss risky behaviours like smoking, alcohol and drugs. You will also have the opportunity to be seen without your parents for part of your clinic appointment.

Some young people with learning disabilities need help to stay healthy and to make decisions about their care when they are adults. We will ensure that there is someone available who can support and advocate for these young people.

3. Starting a transition plan

We will work in partnership with you and your family to create your personal transition plan. This will be tailored to your health needs and coordinated with other aspects of transition, as necessary.  You will be given a copy of your transition plan and have the opportunity to ask any questions. The transition plan should be reviewed at each appointment.

4. Reviewing the multidisciplinary team

Your circle of support is the group of people, professionals, friends and family, who are there to help you. We will list the multidisciplinary team of professionals in your circle of support, and identify someone to take over from them when you transition to adult services. Your GP will be more important in your circle of support when you transition to adult services. We will identify a transition keyworker, and sometimes a lead consultant, to support you and coordinate your transition.

5. Referral to adult services

We will identify the best adult services, depending on your needs, and give you a choice of services if possible. We will ask for your consent to refer you to the professionals who will be taking over your care in the adult sector, and ask them to tell you about the services they provide.

6. Joint reviews with children services leading

You may be invited to attend a transition clinic, led by professionals from children services with support from adult services, so that you can get to know the professionals who will be taking over your care. If there is not an appropriate transition clinic available, professionals from adult services should be invited to attend your normal clinic appointments. We will ask your permission to share a full electronic copy of your health records with adult services and offer you a copy, too.

7. Planning your route into urgent (emergency) care

Once you have moved into adult services, you will need to know what to do and who to call when you are unwell. We will make sure your GP has the necessary information to support you. Once you have moved into adult services, you will not be taken to Alder Hey if an ambulance is called, or you need to come into hospital. We will make sure you know which hospital you are likely to be taken to, and that they have the necessary information to support you.

8. Moving into adult services

Eventually, you will be ready to attend the adult clinic, or be admitted to an adult hospital ward. We hope that, with our support, you will feel confident and ready to make this decision. Most young people are ready to move into adult services when they are 16 or 17. This means children’s services can provide support to adult services for a while, ensuring that you are properly settled in.

9. Joint reviews with adult services leading

Children’s services will be available to provide advice and support to professionals from the adult services after you move. You may be invited to attend a transition clinic, led by professionals from adult services with support from children’s services.  If there is not an appropriate transition clinic available, professionals from children’s services should be invited to attend your normal adult clinic appointments.

10. Settling in to adult services

Finally, usually before your 19th birthday, we hope you will feel confident and well supported in adult services, and we will be able to discharge you from children’s services.
For more information about transitioning to adult services go to

Alder Hey Children's Charity
Hide this section
Show/hide accessibility tools

Alder Hey Children's Charity