Key factors identified which lead to an effective transition from children’s to adult services for young adults with life-limiting conditions

Categories: Research.

Improvements in care and treatment have led to a growing number of young adults with life-limiting conditions living beyond childhood (Fraser et al., 2011), which has led to an increasing cohort of young adults who must make the transition from children’s to adult services.  However, there is little evidence on transition services for young adults with life-limiting conditions, with few models of good practice in the literature. 

In 2016 Dr Helen Kerr of Queen’s University Belfast, completed doctoral research which identified the key factors that contribute to an effective transition from children’s to adult services for young adults with life-limiting conditions. This research was supported by the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, and Health and Social Care, Research and Development, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland and supervised by Dr Peter O’Halloran, Dr Honor Nicholl and Professor Jayne Price. The research had four phases of data collection which commenced with a survey questionnaire to service providers in both statutory and non-statutory organisations to secure a picture of the transition services exist in the island of Ireland.  This was followed with interviews with young adults, then, focus groups with parents/carers and finally, interviews with service providers throughout the island of Ireland. 

The findings identified eight interventions associated with an effective transition from children’s to adult services.  Enabling contextual factors were also identified that influenced whether interventions were effective. These study findings have led to research currently being undertaken on the development and evaluation of a transition intervention for young adults with life-limiting conditions in Northern Ireland. Helen also led in the organisation and facilitation of an all-Ireland Transition workshop in 2016, working with over 80 services users and service providers to identify the key priorities for action on an effective transition to adult services. 

Researcher of the Year 

The significance of this research has been recognised in a number of awards. In March 2017 Helen won the International Journal of Palliative Nursing ‘Researcher of the Year’ presented by Professor Julia Downing at a ceremony in London. The Royal College of Nursing also recognised the importance of this research as Helen was runner up in the Northern Ireland ‘Researcher of the Year’ in May 2016. In October 2016 Helen secured the Florence Nightingale Foundation Travel Scholarship award to develop transition guidelines in Northern Ireland. 

Further information can be obtained from Helen Kerr: h.kerr@qub.ac.uk.