When it comes to Child to Adult Transitioning, the most notable of ellenor’s relationships with local service providers is with the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT).
Identifying the Chasm Between Children and Adult Services
Our collaboration with KCHFT first came about from a relationship between Kate Bradford, ellenor's former Interim Operational Lead - Children’s Services with Sue Marsden, until recently one of KCHFT’s Community Learning Disability Nurses.
Both had recognised the challenges faced by young people nearing adulthood, particularly those with complex health conditions, or life-limiting illnesses. With Sue's experience and knowledge in adult services and Kate as a paediatrics specialist, together they recognised the yawning gulf that has traditionally separated adult and children's services.
Sadly, adult health services lack the resources to support children reaching adulthood which, for the purposes of transition, is 17 years old under the same hospice model they’re used to.
Sue’s role, working in conjunction with ellenor, is to help bridge that gap between children’s and adult’s services, and ensure that both patients and their families feel informed and comfortable throughout the process.
Meeting the Needs of Young Adults with Life-Limiting Conditions
Part of ensuring that young patients’ and their families receive a smooth, successful transition to adult care is instilling confidence in the new service providers. This is something that Kate and Sue worked together to achieve; conducting joint visits, demonstrating each other's skills and knowledge, and making it clear that it isn’t a handover, but an overlap of service.
We provide holistic care from the moment a child is diagnosed, throughout the trajectory of their condition.
Therefore, it’s important that over the course of a child’s transition to adult services, the entirety of their needs are met not only the physical care, but the individual’s mental, emotional, educational, and spiritual requirements too.
To achieve this, the KCHFT’s remit is naturally a multi-disciplinary one. Working with people with a range of complex health needs, learning disabilities, and life-limiting illnesses, treatment takes a variety of different forms.
That could be physical healthcare, intervention in challenging behaviour, or advice around sex and relationships. It could also comprise of help with speech and language, and physiotherapeutic advice, as well as assistance accessing information and education.
There’s plenty of paperwork, too. Sue of KCHFT, is responsible for transitioning the treatment escalation plans of young patients, while a lot of her work, such as liaising with GPs, signposting, and fact-finding for families, goes on in the background.
Local Alliances Making it all Possible
To be able to address each aspect of a patient’s wellbeing, KCHFT is in league with several other pillars of the Kent community. These include with Kent County Council, which provides social services, as well as information around benefits, and Kent Medway Partnership Trust for mental health services.
This collaboration takes the form of the Learning Disability Alliance, a formal, multi-disciplinary, and cross-organisational league of local health and social care services. Together, its services span occupational therapy, physiotherapy, clinical care, and vision and hearing support.