Moving to adult health and social care services with complex disabilities

This page explains what will change when you move to adult health and adult social care services.

As a young person with complex disabilities, it’s likely you’ve had support from doctors and nurses through your childhood. You may also have had social care support.

When you reach 18, you’ll need to move to adult services in both health and social care.

This can be a confusing and stressful time for you and your family. You may have a great support team who’ve been involved in your care for years so it’s normal to worry about moving on from them. You may also be concerned there might be gaps in your care.

If you have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC plan), provisions for health and social care should be included in that until it ends.

Moving to adult health services

There are a lot of differences between health services for children and adults. These are some of the things you’ll need to get used to:

  • You’re likely to be with a completely different healthcare team – only your GP practice will stay the same. And if you move away from home the GP might be new too. 
  • The structure of the team will be different and the healthcare professionals will probably work together in a different way.
  • There may be less ‘joined up’ care because there isn’t an equivalent of paediatric services to link all your healthcare, therapy, and social care.
  • Your relationship with doctors and nurses will change as you get older – you’ll start making decisions about your own healthcare and at some stage you may start going to appointments without your parents.

Your parents can help prepare you by gradually letting you take more responsibility in healthcare appointments. For example, you could start asking some questions in appointments you have.

Your GP will continue to be your main point of contact so you can go to them with questions about transition.

Great Ormond Street Hospital’s website has lots of useful information for young people moving into adult health services.

Moving to adult social services

You are classed as an adult from age 18 so if you have had support from social care services as a child, you will be supported by adult social care.

Under the Care Act 2014, your local authority (LA) should continue to support you through child social care services until adult social care services have decided what support they’ll provide.

This should mean you don’t end up without social care support for any time. However, making decisions about the support you will have as an adult can take a long time. So, it’s important to start thinking and preparing for your adult life early – ideally, from the age of 14 years (Year 9).

Your LA should carry out an assessment to decide what support needs you have.

If you are diagnosed with deafblindness, the LA must use a specially trained professional to carry out a specialist assessment.

Contact’s website has more information on moving to adult social services.

Get support from Sense

We’re here for everyone with complex disabilities.

This content was last reviewed in April 2022. We’ll review it again next year.