Communication, care and consistency help aid transition of care, says report.

More can be done to help children deal with the move to being looked after by adult care and health services, according to a new report.

Healthwatch Norfolk, which gathers the views of the county’s patients and their loved ones, was asked to find out more about the experiences of young people, their families/carers, and professionals about the move, which is known as transitioning.

It focused on looking at services for those with long-term conditions, life-limiting illnesses, and complex health needs by both carrying out surveys and conducting interviews to get more detailed experiences.

Bosses at Norfolk Community Health and Care (NCH&C), which asked for the work, are pledging to make a number of improvements including creating a Children’s and Young People’s Forum, ensure there is more information for young people and families about the transition process, and come up with new policies to make the move clearer.

In total, Healthwatch Norfolk received 51 survey responses and interviewed eight people.

The key findings included:

Varying levels of support depending on which service was being accessed particularly if people needed help from different departments.

Young people and their families felt that communication was lacking, or non-existent in some cases, while professionals felt they were providing plenty of information.

Parents said they wanted more support in the transition process so they could offer more help. This did need to be balanced with preserving the independence and confidentiality of young people where possible.

There were calls for better planning around the process of transition, help with tackling complicated paperwork, ensuring there was one point of contact for young people, and reduce the amount of time people have to repeat their experiences.

Based on these key findings, Healthwatch Norfolk identified five key recommendations to help improve the process of transition. These are:

Set up a process for gathering regular feedback from young people and families/carers which will help give a better understanding of good practice and where things could be improved.

Improve communication so that young people and their loved ones know what to expect from the transition process, and make sure professionals are working even more closely together to make sure services and care join up.

Think about appointing a keyworker who will be the main point of contact for the young person and their family through the transition process.

Review the way transition is planned so that records are easily accessible, and people do not have to keep repeating their story several times.

Actively encourage parents and carers to be part of the transition process.

You can download the full report by clicking here. 

Helen Bradley, Quality Matron for Mill Lodge and Children’s Services, responded on behalf of NCH&C after receiving the report.

She has announced a total of 11 improvements including developing a Children’s and Young People’s Forum to hear about experiences, create a leaflet to explain what happens during the transition process, make sure there is more collaboration, all its services to have approved care processes, and extend the roll out of the Carers Passport for parents and carers as young people go through the transition process.

She said: “There is a national and local drive to develop and improve on the Transition experience for young people and their families. We acknowledge NCH&C are part of a system-wide approach to work alongside our partners in healthcare provision to improve these experiences and develop our services, so they meet the needs of local young people.”

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, added: “As with so many things, communication is key. The process of transitioning to adult care can be a worrying time for young people, their families, and carers, and it is important everyone knows what is going on at every stage.

“That came through very clearly in the feedback we got from our work, and we are pleased to see NCH&C has already come up with an 11-Point Plan to tackle some of the concerns we heard about.

“We welcome this very constructive response, and we look forward to checking in with young people in the future to see how things have improved for them as a result.”

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