BLOG: Preparing teens for a smooth transition

BLOG: Preparing teens for a smooth transition

by Drs. Jan Willem Gorter and Christina Grant

At McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) we all work together to make sure that children and teenagers get better. We like to see them grow, grow up and become adults.

But growing up is harder for some than it is for others. For teens with chronic conditions, it means they will leave the Children’s Hospital when they reach adulthood. That milestone comes with a challenging transition to new adult health care providers.

This is an unavoidable period for patients and their families. From research, and our own learnings at MCH, we know that this time of transition often includes additional costs, and can negatively affect a teen’s health and wellbeing.

Transitioning to adult care should be a time of celebration for teens

When equipped with proper knowledge and the right skills to take charge of their health, young people stand more firmly later in life. They have a better grip on their health and wellbeing, they are better prepared for health risks, and can better withstand hard times. We prepare our children for the transition from elementary to high school and from high school to college or university. It sets them up for success. A transition between health care providers should be no different. The smoother the transition, the greater the potential for success on the other side.

Parents of teens with chronic conditions tell us that they need more support around these transitions. Many providers at MCH have also asked for better tools and appropriate resources to foster smooth transitions for patients and their families.

With this in mind, we at MCH are working towards better supporting teens through their transitions into adult care. We recently developed a program called MyTransition that empowers youth to engage in their own care, and helps them navigate the system. After a successful pilot phase, we’re looking forward to rolling out an app that will suit this unique population, and the people who help care for them.

Transitioning to adult care should be a time of celebration for teens. It means they have reached an important milestone in their lives. It’s our job to make it as seamless as possible.