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Preparing for adulthood

Staying healthy

When you are a child, any help you get from doctors or other medical staff comes from children’s health services.

But when you turn 18, you need to change over to adult health services.

This is nothing to worry about. You will find out what you need to do on this page.

If you have an education, health and care (EHC) plan, you can use your yearly reviews to help get ready for this change.

Get ready for adult healthcare

The things you need to do to change from child to adult health services are:

  • when you are 16, ask your GP about moving to adult health services when you turn 18. This is because the change can take a long time and should not be rushed
  • ask your parents or carers to explain your special educational needs or disability (SEND) to you, so that you can easily talk to your GP and other medical staff about any health issues you have
  • if you have a learning disability, make sure your GP knows this so that they can give you the best healthcare

NHS continuing healthcare

If you have high needs and get lots of help from doctors and other medical staff, you may need to make a special change.

Children with SEND who have complex health needs may get a continuing care package from the NHS. This makes sure all their health needs are covered.

When you turn 18, continuing care packages stop. But you may be able to switch over to NHS continuing healthcare instead.

If you got continuing care as a child, it does not mean that you’ll automatically get NHS continuing healthcare.

You must have an assessment to see if you can get NHS continuing healthcare.

Contact our Transitions and Continuing Healthcare Team to ask about an assessment.

If you get NHS continuing healthcare, you can ask for a personal health budget.

This budget can be used to pay for health needs that support your EHC plan.

Personal health budgets give you more control over your healthcare and the help you get.

Help to look after your health as an adult

As an adult there is lots of help in the local area to make sure you stay healthy:

Yearly or annual health checks

People aged 14 and over with a learning disability can get a free health check every year.

This is nothing to worry about. It's only to make sure that you are healthy and gives you time to talk about anything that is worrying you.

To get a yearly health check, your name must be on your doctor’s learning disability register. To make sure you’re on this list, speak to your GP.

Read more about yearly health checks.

Mental health

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) helps children in the local area who have mental health issues.

When you turn 18, any help you get from CAMHS will move over to adult mental health services.

CAMHS will help you to change over to adult care, and they will start this process around 6 months before you turn 18.

This is to make sure there is enough time to make the change, and so that it does not feel rushed or scary.

If CAMHS does not feel you need adult mental healthcare, you may be passed over to a different service such as counselling.

Read about other mental health services for young people with SEND near you:

Show me local mental health services

Help paying for prescriptions

If your doctor gives you an NHS prescription for medicine or another treatment, this will be free if you:

  • are 16 to 18 and in full time education
  • have a medical condition and a valid medical exemption certificate known as a MedEx
  • have a physical disability that stops you from going out without help from another person, and you have a valid MedEx
  • you are an NHS inpatient (that is, you are in hospital for treatment, not living at home)

You can use the NHS checker to see if you can get free prescriptions.

Find out how to apply for a MedEx medical exemption certificate.

NHS health advice and information

The NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can answer your health questions and help you get more involved in your own healthcare.

PALS can also help you if you have any problems when using the NHS.

Read more about how PALS can help you manage your health as an adult.

Stay fit and healthy

As an adult, you should also find time to make sure your heart and body are healthy.

There are lots of fitness and sports activities near you that are suitable for young people with SEND.

Search our directory to find ways for young people with SEND to stay fit and healthy:

Show me ways for people with SEND to stay healthy