Health care transition

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Learn about some of the things you can expect when the time comes for your teen to transition to an adult health-care centre.

Key points

  • Encourage your teen to use the information they learn to ask informed questions, speak with their health-care team on their own and learn to advocate for themselves.
  • If you have any questions about the transition to adult care, talk to your teen's health-care team.

Depending on where you live, your teenager has probably been receiving care from a paediatric doctor. This doctor may work in a paediatric hospital or on a paediatric floor. If so, around the time your teenager turns 18, they will leave the paediatric setting and either transition to adult care or return to their family doctor.

Health history

When your teen becomes an adult, they will be expected to understand and to communicate their treatment and health history. This takes practice. Your teenager will learn about cancer, tests, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments in this program. Encourage them to use this information to practice communicating their treatment and health history in appointments. At the end of the teen program, they will have the opportunity to create three-sentence summary. Encourage them to provide this summary during their appointments.

When your teen is well enough, encourage them to speak with their health-care team by themselves. You can support them by helping to prepare a list of questions or concerns to share with their health-care team. Encourage your teen to talk about things that are bothering them or that they have questions about. Let them know that it is normal to have concerns that they may not want to share in front of their parent(s). Try to resist always acting as the liaison between your teenager and the health-care team. Your teen will learn tips about communicating their needs to the health-care team in the teen section on communication.

Transitioning to adult care

The transition to adult care can be a challenging time for some teens and their families. Practicing the skills expected of adults can be a big help. Of course, you will still be able to support your child in many ways, even in adult care. Have a look through the teen page on transition to learn more about what you and your teen can expect.

If you have any questions about your teen’s transition, their readiness for transition, or ways to help your teen prepare to take more responsibility for their health, talk to their health-care team. Some hospitals have resources, programs or specific staff to help teens prepare to transition to adult care and to being a cancer survivor in general.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019