Transition Support Service

Independence taking control of your health care

  • Independence is one of the defining aspects of adulthood. Adults have to provide for themselves, make their own appointments, pay bills and advocate for themselves, as well as making lots of decisions for themselves every day. A big part of adolescence is learning the skills that will help you manage all these different aspects of your general life as well as your health care. As a young person with a chronic illness you will have more responsibilities than most people your age. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as you will be in tune with your body and more capable in certain areas. Hopefully independence will be one of them!

    You and your doctor

    One important area of independence is developing the skills and confidence to talk to your doctor and your health care team on your own. This helps you to understand and manage your condition and to increasingly take more responsibility for self care. It is likely that as an adult you will attend appointments on your own at times. Being able to raise and discuss the issues that you need your doctor's assistance with is very important as is being able to take on board treatment plans and recommendations and put them into action. You may like to start by seeing the doctor on your own for part of the consultation and then take the responsibility of updating your parents on any changes to your treatment plan.

    Have a read through the How to Talk to Your Doctor fact sheet for more information on how to talk to your doctor and other members of your health care team with confidence.

    It is also worthwhile knowing your rights when it comes to your health care. As a young person you do have different rights than a young child particularly around consent and confidentiality. Check out the Know your Rights Including Confidentiality fact sheet.

    You and your parents/carers

    Gaining some independence from your parent/carer can be a challenging task for you and for them. Your parents/carers are always there for you and letting go may be easier for some than others. They have been there for you from day one and are used to being highly involved in your health care, so sometimes it's difficult and can take time for parents to look at their children as adults and to have the confidence to step back and give them health care responsibilities. Keep this in mind as you seek some independence in your health care. If you haven't already, try to accept this as a challenge or a natural progression of things. Initial steps could be attending part of your appointments without your parent/carer, booking your own appointments, as well as taking on more responsibility for other smaller things in your day to day life.

    Have a read through Negotiating Your Independence for more information on how to begin the process of working with your parents/carer's in gaining more independence.

    Medications

    Becoming an adult is also about learning to be more responsible for your own medications. Knowing the name of your medications, why you need them, and how much you need to take is a great start! Taking them without a reminder from a parent or guardian is the next step! Also very important is knowing when and how to get a prescription and how to fill it at the hospital or local pharmacy.

    Adolescence and your condition

    It is important that you know about your medical condition and its effect on your growing, changing body. There may be some specific questions that you would like to have answered about this. It's important to understand what tests you need to have regularly, why and what the latest results were. It is also important to understand what the effects of drugs and alcohol can be on your body, and how changes such as less sleep or travel might affect things. Make sure you discuss this with your health care team as they will be able to give you some helpful hints in regards to this. However, in the end it all comes down to your choices. Adolescence is about choices and understanding the risks associated with some of those choices. The following fact sheet gives you some more info on how to approach these decisions; Risk-taking & Choices.

    It is also essential for you as an adolescent to have an understanding of your body and sexual health. The Body Image & Sexual Health fact sheet will help you with this.

    Lastly, make sure you have developed some resilience and know how to deal with bullying, as these two factors are important both in adolescence and later in life. To find out more about resilience read  Developing Resilience & Dealing with Bullying.

    Medicare, health insurance and ID

    A good early step in preparing to move to an adult health service is to apply for your own cards. It is particularly important to have your own Medicare card when you have a medical condition or disability. Medicare cards will be handy as they help you claim many benefits in the health care system like free hospitalisation in the public setting. It is also good to be aware of the benefits that private health insurance provides so you can decide whether it is a priority for you to have this extra level of health cover.

    It is also very important to have some form of photo ID, especially if you are over 18 years of age. Proof of Age cards, or a drivers license, are handy to have so that you can prove to people that you are over 18. See the ID, Health Cards and Other Practical Matters fact sheet for more information.

    Some useful links to explore are:

    Public services

    All public clinics and hospitals are covered by Medicare.

    Private services

    You will need private health insurance to access private hospitals and services.

    You do not have to have private insurance. It is your choice, however, if you are thinking about getting Private Health Insurance, have a look at what different insurance companies offer and what best suits your needs and budget. Check with your parents before you take out your own private health insurance as they may have you covered by their private health insurance. Ask them if this will be transferred to you as an adult.