Transition from child to adult asthma care

Find out about moving from child to adult asthma services, why it’s important to have a transition plan, and who can support you

Moving from child to adult asthma services

The move from child to adult asthma services usually happens between the ages of 16 - 18, but it can vary, depending on your needs.

Around this age, most young people in specialist care can start seeing their GP or asthma nurse when they leave children’s services.

But a small number of young people with severe asthma in specialist care may need to transfer from child to adult asthma services to continue their care.

If you’re moving from a child asthma clinic to an adult one, you should get lots of support from your specialist team. And you’ll have a named worker who will be your main point of contact throughout the transfer process. They can make sure the transfer goes smoothly and that you carry on getting the care you need.

The planning, transfer, and the support you get afterwards is known as ‘transition.’

You can be involved at every stage of the transition process – and your parents and carers too. That way everyone understands what’s happening and when.

When will I transfer from child to adult services?

Your child healthcare team can talk about the best time for you to make the move to adult services.

The transition process can vary across the UK, but you’ll usually start the transfer process around the age of 13-14. This is when your healthcare team may start to talk to you about how services may change as you grow up, so you know what to expect.

The actual transfer to adult asthma services usually happens around 16-18.

Depending on services in your area, you may move to a clinic especially for teens and young adults before you move to an adult clinic. These are clinics for young adults between 18-24.

Young adult asthma services provide extra help and support. For example, you could get help to stop smoking or vaping, or advice on drugs, alcohol, contraception, pregnancy and sexual health.

If there isn’t a young adult asthma service in your area (or you choose to go elsewhere), you can still get this advice. Ask your doctor or nurse about local services or find more advice about living well on the NHS website.

Your ‘named worker’ or care co-ordinator

As you get ready to transfer from specialist asthma children’s services to adult asthma services, you may be given a care co-ordinator, or named worker. This should be someone you know already and who you get on with.

Your named worker will be your main contact person for everything to do with transferring to adult services. They’re a link between all the different people looking after you now, and the ones who will be looking after you once you transfer.

You can ask them questions, or talk to them if you’re worried about anything.

They support you through the transfer process. They’ll also carry on giving you support and advice for a few months after you transfer.

Your transition plan

A good transition plan gives you plenty of time to prepare before you transfer.

Your named worker or care co-ordinator will help you make a good transition plan. It should be all about you, the care you need now, and the care you may need in the future.

You may want to include:

  • your goals around your health
  • support you need to live independently
  • support around continuing education
  • your work ambitions.

You can ask your named worker or care co-ordinator if you can visit the clinic and meet the people who will be taking on your care.

What support you get after you’ve transferred

Your named worker or care co-ordinator may stay in contact once you’ve transferred to adult care. You can still ask them questions and get advice.

If you miss appointments, the new service will be in touch with you to see how they can help. They may get in touch with your parents or carers, or with your GP, if you’re not available.

Advice for parents and carers

Parents or carers often have questions about transferring to adult services and concerns about supporting their teenager to manage their asthma more independently.

How can I help my teenager to take the lead at appointments?

Although it might be hard at first, it’ll help your teenager if you can take a step back. Talking for themselves at appointments will help them build the confidence and skills needed to manage their asthma later on.

You could start by planning a couple of questions together that they can ask the doctor or nurse themselves at their next appointment.

The doctor or nurse can help by speaking directly to your teenager at appointments.

How can I help my teenager remember to take their inhalers?

It’s a good idea to help your child use their inhalers as soon as possible. As they grow up, make sure they have a routine that works well for them.

It can help if:

  • they keep their asthma medicines somewhere easy to find
  • if they have a preventer inhaler or a MART inhaler, they use their inhaler at the same time as something else they need to every day, such as brushing their hair or getting dressed
  • If they have an AIR inhaler, they only need to use it when they get symptoms. 

Help them get in the habit of remembering their reliever inhaler when they go out, too. For example, they could leave it by the front door with their door keys.

What if my teenager isn’t taking their asthma medicine correctly?

Talk to your teenager about what stops them taking their medicine and work out solutions together. For example, if they forget, a reminder app on their phone may help. Or, if they feel embarrassed using an inhaler in front of friends, talk through their feelings and help them gain confidence.

You could also encourage them to talk to their named worker or care co-ordinator about what is stopping them. They can get them any extra support they might need.

How can I stay informed about my teenager’s care?

If your teenager goes to appointments alone, suggest a quick chat afterwards to go through things when they’re ready.

Ask them to share their asthma action plan with you - keep a copy of it on your phone, or print out a copy to keep somewhere easy to find. It reminds you what to do if your teenager’s asthma gets worse.

Your child’s named worker or care co-ordinator is there for family members too. Contact them if you’re feeling unsure, concerned or want advice.

My teenager is leaving child services and seeing our local GP or asthma nurse instead from now on

If your teenager is only going to see your GP or asthma nurse for their asthma care now, it’s a sign their asthma is better controlled now.

The GP and asthma nurse at your local doctors surgery can carry on supporting them with good asthma care.

You can support your teenager to manage their asthma well now that they are looking after it themselves more independently.  

Get lots of advice about managing asthma in your teens.

Get support

Call our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

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