The transition from child to adult health care services usually occurs when they reach between 16 and 18 years old, although planning should begin a lot earlier, at around the age of 13.
The more planning that takes place, the more successful the transition will be. Adolescent clinics allow the transition to be a more gradual and less frightening, process.
When changing from child to adult services the young person will be expected to become more involved in decision making on the medical issues affecting them. The more knowledge that they have on all aspects of epilepsy, the less daunted they will feel.
In the run up to their transition, help your child prepare for the change to adult services by:
- Leaving them on their own for part of clinic appointments.
- Encouraging them to make appointments for themselves.
- Checking that they know when, and how, to seek advice and urgent medical treatment should they need it.
- Encouraging them to keep an up to date seizure diary.
- Suggesting they write down any questions that occur to them between clinic visits.
- Instilling the importance of taking medication. They should know the side effects of the medication they are taking, and what could happen should they stop taking it suddenly and without medical advice.
- Showing them how to follow treatment plans and how to obtain repeat prescriptions.
- Discussing with them of the effects of alcohol, illegal drugs, contraception, tiredness and other issues that may well crop up with young people of this age.
A seizure diary can help track and monitor seizures, which provides key information for doctors, especially if your child is transitioning from child to adult health services.
Websites such as www.youthhealthtalk.org helps young people with epilepsy share their experiences in a supportive manner, helping them realise they are not on their own.
Most importantly a complete review of the young person’s diagnosis and treatment should take place at around this time.
Although you may still attend clinic appointments with your son or daughter if they wish, the doctors will be expecting them to take more control in any decision making that is required.
“A good practice guide on transition planning for young people with complex health needs or a disability” (284732/transition) written by the Department of Health is available by ringing 08701 555 455.