Tools and resources

Support beyond 16 and 18 years old

The guideline and legislation

The guideline sets out the need (duty if young people have an Education, Health and Care Plan) for health and social care service managers to work together to 'ensure a smooth and gradual transition for young people' from Year 9 onwards (1.1.5; 1.2.1). To meet the challenges of providing support for young people after 16 and 18 years old, earlier joint planning by children and adult services along with a person-centred approach to identifying all available options should be in place (1.2.14). The guideline underpins this in recommending a holistic approach to transition planning (1.2.13) and supporting young people to engage with services when available (1.4.2). The development of the Local Offer will provide opportunities for young people, families and professionals to work collectively in identifying gaps and look creatively at short and longer-term solutions (SEND Code of Practice section 4.3).


Moving from a service, or changes to support, are part of the transition process and can be a challenge and a worry for some young people as they prepare with their families for adulthood. In particular this can be the case for young people who may not be 'eligible' for support from, for example, adult social care services. Parents' concerns at this time, as shown by a report from the University of York from parents of young people with autism, include:

  • a lack of progression or meaningful daytime occupation

  • the threat of harm and police involvement arising from behaviour problems

  • poor or worsening mental health

  • parents' own ability to continue the caring role.

University of York (2013) Transition to Adult Services and Adulthood for Young People with Autistic Spectrum Conditions

Learning from local areas

The workshop attendees identified that planning across services was essential to offer the best support to young people and families. This includes making sure individual plans have long-term goals and that service support plans are based on data of local current and future need. For example housing provision, college places and primary care. Key points from the workshops are set out in the table below and the recommendations they link to in the guideline.

Guideline reference

Local area learning – support beyond 16 and 18 years

Service provision and eligibility

Recs 1.1.5; 1.2.1; 1.2.13; 1.2.14; 1.2.17; 1.3.1; 1.3.5–1.3.9; 1.4.1; 1.4.2

Make sure staff are confident in outcomes planning and able to work with young people and families to identify a range of potential support beyond statutory services. This also needs to be understood by staff in employment support, independent living and community organisations.

The Designated Medical Officer could work across pediatrics and adult clinics or GPs to promote using transition planning to ensure young people understand the impact of taking risks. For example, in managing their own condition or disengaging from services.

Longer term planning (for example five year plans) is needed for services to anticipate young people's needs, including those who will return from out-of-county placements. This planning could include sharing data about young people in transition to help identify those who are disengaging or not going to be eligible for adult support.

Use transition pathways to provide clarity on what is available from therapy services at 18 and beyond. For example, occupational therapy (advice on adaptations) physiotherapy (consistent support and access to services including hydrotherapy) and speech and language therapy. Consider joint funding these across services if no health funding or provision is available.

Improve promotion of community and non-specialist support options for young people, for example training and employment opportunities. Promote these through the Local Offer and other information sources locally.

Share data on consistent gaps with managers and commissioners and work with providers to increase choices of support. For example, agencies who can support direct payment/personal budget administration with families particularly on identifying more flexible, creative support.

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