How do adult services differ from child healthcare services

Below is an outline of some of the main differences you may come across, and some helpful hints and tips and key questions to ask.

The way that healthcare services are delivered in a children's hospital can be quite different from the adult health care environment. This information is to let you know some of these key differences so that you will feel better prepared.

Child Healthcare ServicesAdult Healthcare Services
Questions from the medical team about you and your treatment in hospital will be directed at your parents/carersQuestions will be directed at you, and you will need to be able to explain your medical information
You may have a parent/carer with you at appointments to help you ask any questions you might haveWhen you attend appointments alone, you will need to ask questions yourself
The healthcare team should use language you and your parents/carers can understandThe adult healthcare team should use language and talk in a way you can understand
Your parents/carers will tend to book appointments for youYou book your own appointments
The wards in the children's hospital are familiar to you, may have some decorations and activities for you to doAdult wards may not have recreational activities or decorations
You may get to share a room with someone your own age, but it will sometimes be someone much youngerYou may be in a two or four bedded room with older adults
Wards are usually set up for family/caregivers to stay overWards are not usually set up for family/caregivers to stay over as easily
You can always ask your parents/carer if you are unsureYou can still ask your parents/carer to help you understand - what's what they are there for
You may be part of a community based support service for your condition with similar aged peopleYou may be part of a community based support service for your condition with similar aged people.

You can still access support in adult wards

Below are some helpful tips for taking charge of your own healthcare and managing your appointments:

  • Be informed, develop a plan for managing your own healthcare

  • Think of three sentences that summarise your medical condition and care

  • Book your appointments in advance and keep a diary so you can make sure you turn up

  • Allow plenty of time to get to your appointments

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions from your healthcare team and to ask for an explanation if there is anything you don't understand. It might be helpful to take a list of questions with you to your appointment so that you don't forget.

  • Keep your parents/carers up to date on your healthcare. They can be there as a backup

  • You can always bring someone with you to your appointments or to the hospital ward.

  • If it is possible, go and visit the adult wards so that you know what they look like

  • You may want to get more involved with your community support service, sharing your experience with other adults.

This checklist is based on the information from Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne Transition Programme