Preparing for Adult Life
As your son or daughter approaches adulthood, responsibility for their social care will pass from your Local Authority's Children's Services Department to their Adult Health and Social Care Services. This transfer takes place when a young person reaches the age of 18 and legally becomes an adult.
Under the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 in England, the Local Authority is required to undertake an assessment of need of disabled young people in their final year before they leave school. This assessment gives parents and young people the opportunity to talk with their current Social Services contact about the future support to be provided by the Local Authority and to meet their named Social Worker in Adult Services. Your Local Authority is now obliged to publish its 'Local Offer', which is a list of the services available to adults with SEN.
Many parents have found that representatives from their local area do not attend meetings at a residential school or health unit. Make sure that you contact your local area to check who is going to attend meetings well in advance, especially if the plan is for you son / daughter to return to you home area having been a residential pupil at Linden Lodge School.
Advocacy services may help you to get the right transition support for your son or daughter. They may work together with you as a family, or more closely with your son or daughter on an individual basis, as sometimes it can be important for the young person to have a voice separate from you as a parent. Most areas will offer a service.
Finding out about future options
Our advice is for parents and carers to start considering options early. We recommend the Association of National Specialist Colleges (NATSPEC) website (www.natspec.org.uk) as a good starting point to explore possible provisions. You should also inform your Local Authority as your thoughts develop.
You may wish to consider specialist courses for young people with learning disabilities, which may be local to you or require your child to live away from home as part of a residential placement. Note that you are very likely to have to prove that all of your local educational provisions and colleges are unable to meet your child’s needs for any out of borough or residential placement to be considered.
Parent Partnership Services offer information, advice and support for parents of children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) in England. They can also put parents in touch with other local organisations, such as parent forums.
Issues to consider before your child reaches adulthood
- If your son or daughter has complex health needs and requires a lot of support, you may need a continuing care assessment. You should ask for an assessment for ‘continuing care funds’ from the local health authority - this is funding for health care needs for people who have long term health conditions.
- Think about any ongoing specialist requirements. It is important that the whole range is considered, health and medication, hospital treatment, all the therapies, orientation and mobility services, transportation to and from places, equipment needs - can they take what they use with them when they move on? If not, find out who is going to replace it, who is going to pay for what, you will need to ascertain whether it is necessary for direct payments to be used or whether social or health will pick up necessary costs?
- Find out what benefits your family is entitled to, and what extra support you may be able to receive. There will be changes in the benefits that your child receives when they reach the age of sixteen, and start to claim benefits in their own right. If you continue to care for your son or daughter you should be able to continue to claim allowances for yourself as a carer too.
Support for your child
- The support your son or daughter will be offered as an adult may be determined by a Community Care Assessment, (also called a Disabled Persons Act Assessment or DPA in some areas). Alongside this assessment, you as a carer are also entitled to an assessment in your own right – this is called a Carer's Assessment.
- In England, the government has developed ‘Fair Access to Services' to allocate services and make sure people get the right support. There may be differences in eligibility for social care services between children and adults so you will need to check this with your local authority. When your son or daughter moves into adulthood, you may be charged for some services again, ask to see your local area's charging policy.
- In England, part of the transition planning process will include receiving a leaving school health check and a ‘Health Action Plan’ that details their health needs and how these will be met in the future. The Health Action Plan should complement the transition plan
- Increasingly local areas in England are now offering budgets – these can be known as Direct Payments Personal or Individual / Personal Budgets. This is the offer of money, giving the flexibility to arrange your own choice of daytime or evening activities. This is a key part of personalisation – the term used to describe new changes in social care services in England (or person-centred approaches in Wales).
- Personalised approaches recognise that young people and their families are the best people to say the kind of support they need for adult life, and who they would like to provide it. Direct payments are paid to the parents, but young people can receive direct payments in their own right from the age of 16. As this is public funded money you are accountable for this being spent on your child.
Support for parents and carers
- As well as direct support for your son or daughter, you may also be in need of short break services. These are services that allow you to have a break from your caring role whilst offering your son or daughter a positive experience outside of the family home. This service might be at a specialist centre or out in the community, and it might be in the daytime, evening or involve overnight stays.
- If you have received short break services for your son or daughter when they were a child, check what the handover period is and what information is required when they move into adult services so that they can have time to settle in to a new environment.