teenager talking to a doctor

What is 'Transition' and what can I expect?

Thinking about moving from paediatric (children’s) to adult health services can be worrying. It’s normal to feel scared, confused or unsure when dealing with change and transition is no different. Finding out more about transition including what to expect, when it will happen and who you can talk to will help.

Five things to know about transition:

  • Transition is the process of preparing and planning to move from paediatric (children’s) to adult health services.
  • It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions about transition, managing change is hard and it takes time to get used to.
  • There’s no “one size fits all” approach to transition.
  • There’s no set age for transition, although usually by the time you’re 18 you will have moved to adult services.
  • Your doctors and nurses are there to help, talk to them about any questions or concerns you have.


What is transition?

In healthcare, transition is the process of preparing, planning and moving from paediatric (children’s) to adults’ health services.

This usually happens between the ages of 16 and 18, but planning for it generally begins around the age of 13. Your epilepsy team will base the process on what’s best for you – there isn’t a set timeframe or a “one size fits all” approach.

What can I expect?

Transition is a process. Your experience will depend on your needs and your epilepsy service. The process can be different depending on your epilepsy clinic and where you live in the UK.

Some people are offered an appointment at an epilepsy transition or adolescent clinic before moving on to an adult clinic. Your epilepsy team will explain how it will work for you.

You should be involved in your transition planning, and it should be tailored to your individual needs. Your paediatric and adult team should work together with you to plan your care. They should explain the process, what will happen and where you can get support.

Your epilepsy team should also cover any issues or concerns you have. These will vary from person to person but could include managing medication, other conditions, education, employment, driving, living independently and risks.

Try to be kind to yourself. It can be scary and worrying when you move away from the doctors and nurses you know. Hopefully, by being involved in the transition process you will feel more confident about what will happen.

Transition should take place over several years. It should help you to become more confident and more comfortable managing your epilepsy.

Becoming more independent

Transition involves you becoming more independent with your epilepsy care. It can feel like a lot to take on but is an important step as you get older.  

During transition you’ll start to take more responsibility for your care. This can include:

  • Attending appointments on your own (for some or all the appointment).
  • Managing your medication and treatments, such as ordering and collecting your repeat prescriptions.
  • Managing your seizure diary.
  • Asking your epilepsy team questions based on what you want to know.

You, your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse may want to start talking about more ‘grown up’ topics such as relationships, sex, alcohol and recreational drugs. Talking about these topics can be helpful, even if you find them embarrassing or are nervous about them. Transition provides a space for you to explore, with your epilepsy team, things that are important to you.