Transition Options

What comes next after education?

“Transition” can be such a daunting and fear-provoking concept, which all too often is a major challenge worry for parents. For children of 15-16 years old who are settled into a school routine, the idea of moving them onto further education elsewhere at 19 may seem too far away to start worrying about. The thought of planning  ahead to what happens after college, may still feel too far in the future to start planning for. However, in our experience we have found that it is never too early to start understanding what options are out there and what will happen once education has finished. The time for Laura to leave college came around too quickly, despite us perceiving we had all the time in the world.


When Laura’s transition was looming, we were propelled into talks about transition without really knowing fully what all the options were and what they entailed. There are many terms within the care industry which you can hear and think “but what does that mean? Which option is relevant for my son/daughter?”. Laura is now 33, however when she went to residential college at 18, Laura received funding to board there for 7 years so we were able to take our time when looking at the future. In more recent years, the process of gaining funding for education has, inevitably, changed quite dramatically; it seems that children post 18 are now being assessed on a year by year basis to determine whether they are able to gain funding for another year of education. In some instances, individuals moving on to college are only able to secure funding for day provision, with more and more colleges unable to offer residential placements to students due to funding cuts. This makes the transition process ever more difficult for parents once their child turns 18 and even more important to start thinking about while your child is younger.


So the break down of the 3 basic options after education has finished are;


1) Living at Home

This option is by far the least expensive for the Local Authority than all of the options. Each individual is given a Personal Budget so that they can access day services, support care hours in the community and respite care, however the rest is left entirely up to you as parents. You must decide, however, how are you going to give your child a fulfilling life – as well as making your own life viable! School & College are busy times for children and young adults, it is the time where they are learning life skills, building social skills and developing personal goals. Every day is scheduled for them to be busy and active doing this and that. So, for some young people to then move back home you really need to think about how you can continue that active lifestyle into their every day living, and the transition from school to home life. There are also some harsh realities to think of, such as what happens when you are unable to support their needs and frankly, what will happen to your child when you are no longer there. These are thoughts which may not seem relevant at this point in time, however it is always something to bear in mind.


2) Support Living / Independent Living

This option tends to suit individuals with less complex needs, who are able to live independently but with some support either within the home, out in the community or going to work etc. Supported Living basically means that the person is a tenant in their own home (paid for by housing benefits) and run by a Supported Living service who provide the care hours agreed for your son/daughters needs within their care plan on a daily basis. Realistically you must again look at the services running the housing in order to establish whether they are going to be able to meet the needs of your young person. There are good and bad services, however you must do the leg work and go out to look at as many places as possible. Again, this option is far more appealing to Local Authorities, as it is dramatically cheaper than the final option; residential care.


3) Residential Care / Nursing Care

This option is more suitable for individuals with much more complex needs, who require constant support and care. The Local Authority and sometimes in conjunction with CCG’s, or indeed CCG’s in totality (depending on the level of healthcare needs) must pay for all aspects of the care and living costs, so it is therefore less appealing to them. You must decide whether you son/daughter has support needs which can only be met within this type of environment and again, it is important to look around and not to expect good services to be on your doorstep. In our case, we were unable to find anything suitable for Laura, as she required a very specialist type of residential care which also catered to her health needs, as well as providing a fulfilled life for her.


So what’s the first step?

Research, research and more research! Go out to look at as many providers as you possibly can. You must be prepared to look at all of the options that your Local Authority propose, but it is up to you to research these places to go and see them. If they are not able to cater to your child’s needs, you must evidence this to the Local Authority to explain WHY, before they will accept that you should look at further options. This is the part that can take time, so that is why we suggest looking early – even if your Local Authority are being quiet or telling you not to worry about the future yet. We took a notepad with us to the 20+ care homes we went to see and made notes at each one, which we made into an evidential document to build our case. For us the end result was quite unexpected – it was the creation of Home From Home Care! Please refer to our “top 10 series – 10 questions for care providers” for a list of good questions to ask when you look around, as well as our “transition” section for more advice.


Technology has come a long way since we had to look at options for Laura, so do use the computer to research local options first to get an idea of what is available in your area. Ask your school or Local Authority if they run any events locally where providers come together to share their information. These type of events are a great way to get an idea of what there is locally and nationally and to start asking some of those questions face to face about whether they could support your young person. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security…the time for your young one to move on will come around quickly and it is never too early to have an idea of what happens next.




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