Preparing for adulthood here

Preparing for adulthood

At the Community Children and Young People’s service we want to support young people to enable them to become as knowledgeable as they can about their healthcare.

When you have started secondary school, it is a good time to think about the skills and knowledge you might need around accessing adult health services.

14 years old might seem too early to think about this, but it is important you give yourself time. Parents, Carers and other health professionals can still support and help you.

Not everyone will be able to be totally independent and some people might always want or need help. It is still important that you are included in discussions about your health.

What is preparing for adulthood in health services?

This is usually called “Transition”. This word can mean lots of different things in healthcare, so we call it Preparing for Adulthood.

  • Preparing for adulthood begins at 13-14 years or year 9 in school.
  • It is about telling you what to expect in the future.
  • It is giving your family this information so they can offer you advice and support.
  • It is about empowering you and your family to know what changes to expect.
  • Some people need more time, or different support to other people. Everyone is unique. It is about giving you time to prepare.
  • We think it is important for everyone to have this information regardless of your condition.

Information for young people and carers with Life Limiting illness -

If you still see one of our nurses or therapists as you get older, you might need to move to an adult service between the ages of 16-19 years, this is called a 'Transfer'or 'Transition'.

Some people might need to stay in children’s services longer, depending on which team you see (19-25 years).

Some people may just see a nurse or therapist for a few appointments and might go back to seeing their GP for health advice.

It is important that you and your family / carers feel empowered and supported to learn about these changes, and how you can become as independent as possible when accessing adult health services.

It is essential that the care you get is appropriate for your age and needs as you grow into an adult. Adult bodies are different to children’s bodies.

You can find out more here:

If you need support around Social Care please contact the following teams:

Why is preparation for adulthood important?

When you grow into an adult you will be making decisions about your healthcare as much as you are able.

  • You may need to know where to ask for help.
  • Families who support young people who might not be able to make their own decisions will need information too.
  • This will enable you to be as independent as possible in the future.

Differences to expect from 16 years of age

Letters can be addressed to you rather than your parents or guardians. Sometimes if people don’t understand (don’t have capacity), letters might still be addressed to parents or guardians.

You might be asked if you want to go into appointments on your own.  You can still have support from your family if you want it.

You will be given information to help you make decisions about your healthcare. Health professionals will support and advise you for 'Shared Decision Making'.

You might have to make, cancel, or rebook your own health appointments unless you give someone else permission. Some people will still need support as they are unable to do this for themselves.

The age that children’s health services finish and adult health services start varies depending where people live and what service they receive. In some areas, adult services start at 16 years and in others they start at 18 years or older. It is a good idea to find out what age this happens where you live. If you became unwell or had an accident and needed to go to hospital, you might be admitted to a children’s or an adult ward depending on where you live. Your local General Practice (GP) clinic would be able to help you with this.

If you are in receipt of a Children and Young People Specialist Service and need to transfer to adult care, your nurse or therapist will give you more information before this happens.

Legal and financial changes

Young people legally become responsible for decisions about their healthcare once they are 16 years old.

If you do not want to, you do not have to make decisions about any treatment on your own. Professionals, family members and anyone else who usually supports you will be able to help as they have always done. This is called Shared Decision Making.

Special rules that are part of the Mental Capacity Act appy if a doctor or professional think that a young person is not able to make decisions on their own. The rules set out in the Mental Capacity Act will always be followed by doctors and other professionals.

We have produced a printable leaflet with more information here:

You can find out more here:

Your confidentiality and privacy

Once you reach the age of 16, you can agree to examination or treatment just like adults. People providing health care do not then have to ask your parents or guardian for consent as well. Your conversations will be private, unless you want to include your parents or guardian.

Professionals won't be able to keep things private if you may be causing harm to yourself or other people.

Special rules apply for those people unable to make decisions for themselves.

You can find out more about confidentiality here:

Letters and communications

After your 16th birthday, clinic or discharge letters should be addressed to you. We will ask you if you if you would like to receive these letters or if they should still be sent to your parents or guardians. 

If a young person lacks the capacity to agree to receiving copies of letters they will continue to be sent to the person or people with ‘parental responsibility’.

Checking the names, times and information on letters is important. 

It is good to keep letters in a safe place so you can look at them again if you need to. You might be able to see some letters if you use the NHS app to look at your records.

Making appointments and your medical history

Making appointments

From 16 years old, you should be the one to make or change the date or time of any appointments unless you have given permission for someone else to do this. Knowing how to manage your appointments is an important skill to learn. If a young person lacks the capacity to do this, the person supporting them will be able to continue to do this.


Medical history

Many young people have little idea of their medical history. It is a good idea to keep a record (or Health Passport) of what immunisations you have had and when you had them, and if you have had any diseases, operations, or accidents when you were younger. If you are not sure your family doctor (GP) or family should be able to help fill in any gaps. You might need this information if you apply for a job or go to further education. You may also be able to see this information if you use the NHS app.



The NHS Go app provides young people with confidential health advice and greater access to health information. You can find local services in some areas and learn about health and your rights as a user of the NHS.


The NHS App - You can use the NHS App to get advice about coronavirus, order repeat prescriptions, book appointments, check your symptoms, view your medical record, access health services on behalf of someone you care for. In Nottinghamshire, there is also an add on app called “Patient knows best”. For more Information and to download the app, follow the link:


Related leaflets



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