Our offer

Take a look at our leaving care offer below and find out about what entitlements and support are available to you. If you would like to speak to someone about your offer, then contact your personal advisor or get in touch!

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Our leaving care offer

Physical and Mental health

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Our offer for 16-25

Your health is important to us. We want to support you to understand your health needs and receive the support you may need. We want all our care leavers to experience a healthy lifestyle. Health can mean many things and everyone’s health needs will be different. This section outlines what we offer you and gives general advice on what we think would be helpful to know and the support we can offer for you to access this.

We want you to experience good physical, emotional and mental health. Everyone’s physical health needs are different and depending on your individual needs as to the support we may offer. If you have specific health needs, you may be receiving services from health professionals and/or adult services. Whatever your health needs are, your PA will ensure your needs and the services supporting you are detailed in your Pathway Plan. If you are open to adult services, you may know this as ‘My Plan’.


Did you know you are entitled to a pre-payment prescription certificate?


– Be registered with a GP

– Be a care leaver and eligible to receive a leaving care service from your originating local authority.

– Be under 25 years old.

Not already be exempt from prescription charges.

To find out more please contact your Personal Advisor/ Worker or the duty line on:

West Sussex: LeavingCareService@westsussex.gov.uk 0330 222 2004

Under 18

The Looked After Children’s Nurse
At West Sussex we have a specialist nurse called a ‘Looked After Children’s Nurse’ who supports you until you are 18. During your time in care, you would have been invited to an annual health assessment with the Looked After Children’s Nurse, some of the things they would have covered are:

  • Your general health needs
  • How you’re staying healthy
  • Dental and optician checks
  • Things you might be worried or concerned about

It’s the role of the Looked After Children’s Nurse to put together a ‘Health Summary’ before you turn 18. This is a document that will include:

  • Your NHS number
  • Immunisations (vaccinations) you have had
  • Any health professionals you have seen
  • Your current GP
  • Useful contacts

Your Looked After Nurse will arrange for you to have this summary when you attend your last review. If you do not attend this review or inform them where you want this sent, they will send this to your last-registered GP. The service will inform us they have completed this.

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Over 18

If you are 17 years of age, and your Social Worker thinks you may have additional adult care and or mental health needs, they will make a referral to adult services on your behalf.

If you are open to CAMHS, as part of your reviews, your Social Worker and Conference Reviewing Officer (CRO) will make sure, with your permission, CAMHS are planning for your transition to adult mental health services if this is needed.

When you are 18 or over and you or your PA think you may have adult social care and or mental health needs, they will seek your permission to make a referral to adult services on your behalf.

When you are 18 or over, if you are worried about any aspects of your health, emotional well-being or mental health, talk to your PA. Your PA can offer you advice and support on how to access health services.

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Mental health and emotional well-being support

Your emotional wellbeing is an important element of your overall health care and can impact on daily life. We can support you by giving you access to a worker from the Youth Emotional Support Service who can help with practical solutions to help you build resilience and develop strategies to manage. We also recognise that there are times when you may need specialist therapeutic support and we will help you access this if you need it. Your Social Worker or PA will discuss what support you need, and with your permission, they can make a referral on your behalf.

To support your emotional well-being, Social Workers and PAs can help you with building positive relationships and engaging with activities and groups in your local community. We also have an independent visitors’ scheme who befriend and mentor children we care for and care leavers and our Voice and Participation team who put on lots of activities with care leavers. See the relationship section for more information.

As well as turning to other people for support, your PA can talk to you about things that you can do that support your emotional wellbeing at a base level too, such as:

  • Making time to relax
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthily
  • Getting fresh air and exercise
  • Connecting with nature
  • Doing something that helps you to feel proud and good about yourself
  • Taking physical and emotional ‘breaks’ from the hectic nature of everyday life – try sitting still for a little while and just take 10 slow deep breaths and see if it helps you to feel a little more grounded

Doing these things regularly really can help you feel a little steadier, so that you can start to think about how to manage the stuff that feels too difficult or overwhelming.

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Essentials information about Health

We know there is a lot to think about when it comes to leaving care and looking after your health. We think there are three main things you can do to look after your health

  • Be registered with a GP surgery
  • Download and register with the NHS App
  • Attend routine appointments

If you just do these 3 things you will have everything you need to keep up to date with your health and access any services you will need.

Read more

Registering with a GP surgery

If you do not have a GP, your PA will advise you how you can register with a GP in your local area. This is the first essential step to ensuring you keep on having access to health services should you need this.

At the GP surgery you will be able to speak to doctors and nurses about any health concerns, they can refer you to other services, prescribe medicine and speak to you about things that are worrying you about your physical or mental health and or emotional wellbeing.

Your GP is a good person to talk to if you are struggling with your emotional wellbeing. They are also able to refer you directly to the Youth Emotional Support Service and if you are under 18, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).



The NHS App is for anyone over the age of 13 and you must be registered with a GP surgery in England to get it. Your PA can help you to access this. The app allows you to:

Attending routine appointments

It a good practice to go and have a health check every year at the GP surgery. We would recommend that you find a time to do this if your surgery offers this. It would be helpful to ask this when you register and/or to help you remember we think booking an appointment around your birthday means that you have a helpful reminder.

You may also be required to visit the doctor because of ongoing support you may need. Remember to reach out to your PA if you need any further support and we can look to help you.

Staying healthy

It’s important to ‘stay’ healthy, there is lots of guidance out there about how you do that, we have given you our top things to keep in your mind to ensure you stay fit and well. Your PA will talk to you about this and offer advice and support to you.


Going to the dentist is crucial, you want to have healthy teeth so that you can eat easily and have all round good dental hygiene. The dentist is free until you are 18 years old, it may also be free if you receive Universal Credit through the ‘NHS Low Income Scheme’ (see Section 5.5.1). If you’re not eligible for the NHS Low Income Scheme we can also help with £300 through your ‘Health Essentials Allowance’, see the finance section to read about this.

To search for a dentist in your area visit: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist

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Your eyes are important. Make sure they receive the right care, they are checked up on and you are registered with an optician.

The optician is free until you are 16, or 18 if you are in full time education. Some opticians offer free eye sight tests. Just like the dentist you may be eligible for the ‘NHS Low Income Scheme’ (see Section 5.5.1) and if you are not, we can help with £300 though your ‘Health Essentials Allowance’, see the finance section to read about this.

To find an optician in your area visit: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-an-optician

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Eating well

Good food is essential to good health, whatever age you are.

A healthy, balanced diet contains a variety of foods, including:

The Eatwell Guide shows the different types of food we need to eat – and in what proportions – to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.

Find out more at West Sussex Wellbeing: https://www.westsussexwellbeing.org.uk/topics/healthy-eating/what-is-a-healthy-diet

Staying Active

Some Leisure Centres in the West Sussex area offering free or reduced rates for leisure facilities including swimming and gyms. Speak to your PA about the area you live in and what is on offer for you. https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/find-my-nearest/leisure-centre/

Sex and Relationships

Having healthy relationships and safe sex is something we encourage. We want you to be open and comfortable to discuss your relationships with us and we will happily offer advice on where you can access services if you need them.

When thinking about sex and relationships there are services to support you with:

You will be able to access contraception for free and if you need any support in these areas you can speak to your PA or visit: https://www.sexualhealthwestsussex.nhs.uk

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Sexual Health West Sussex

Sexual Health West Sussex is a useful website where you can find out everything you need to know about sexual health. The services they can offer are;

  • Online triage
  • Home testing
  • Booking into clinics

They can support you to access;

  • Contraception
  • Sexual transmitted infection tests
  • HIV services
  • Support for pregnancy
Read more

Smoking, Drugs and Alcohol

If you want to talk about smoking, drugs and alcohol we are here to listen. Your PA can advise, guide and be there to support you, however if you are struggling with alcohol, drugs or want to stop smoking then we will be able to find you some extra help with Change Grow Live.

Change Grow Live

Change Grow Live is a national service that has been set up to help people of any age get advice and access services if they are concerned about:

If you’re concerned about any of these areas, speak to your PA and visit: https://www.changegrowlive.org

Domestic abuse

Some people’s behaviours in relationships are not what we term ‘healthy’, meaning, they are not good for our health and/or physical or emotional wellbeing. If someone is behaving in an unkind or upsetting way towards you, this maybe domestic abuse. We want to help you if this is happening, as it is not right to be treated this way or to treat others this way. If you need support, please speak to your Social Worker or PA.  See section on relationships for more information and services to support you.

Other support

Under 18 – Pathfinder

Pathfinder West Sussex services are available to anyone over 18 but a number of Pathfinder partners also provide services to young people under 18. You can find out what is available locally and search their website for useful resources and tips for staying well.

Visit Pathfinder here: https://www.pathfinderwestsussex.org.uk/im-under-18

Over 18

Sussex Mental Health Line

The Sussex Mental Health Line is a 24/7 telephone service offering listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties with their mental health.  The service is available to anyone concerned about their own mental health or that of a relative or friend and this includes carers and healthcare professionals. You do not need an appointment. The Sussex Mental Healthline offers support to those who may be in crisis, distressed and in urgent need of help with their mental health.

Call 0800 0309 500 to speak to someone.


Other help

If you feel that you pose a serious and immediate risk to yourself or to someone else due to your mental health, you need to get emergency support. If possible, see your GP. If this is not possible and it is urgent, visit your local hospital’s A&E department or call 999. If you are not sure whether it is an emergency, but you need to speak to somebody at a time of crisis, try the following:

Directory of services

This section is a directory of services that are available to all young people in West Sussex. These should help you find the support you need, however if you need something more then speak to your PA or GP and we can help you find you what you need.

Allsorts – Information and support for young people under 26 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or unsure (LGBTU) of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Advocacy service to provide representation also available.

Aspens (Autism Sussex) – A charity enabling people with an autistic spectrum condition to receive help and specialist support.

Autism explained – Video animation providing a view of autism from a young person’s perspective.

Beat (formerly Eating Disorders Association) – The UK’s leading eating disorder charity with online support groups and a helpline for anyone under the age of 19.

Childline – Comforts, advises and protects people under the age of 19 years, 24 hours a day and offers free confidential counselling.

Early Intervention Psychosis Service – Treatment for psychosis, a condition which affects a person’s mind, changing the way they think, feel and behave, unable to tell the difference between reality and their imagination.

e-wellbeing (YMCA Dialogue) – A free and confidential counselling service for young people aged 11-18 in West Sussex.

Family Eating Disorders Service (FEDS) – Support for children, young people and families affected by an eating disorder.

Find It Out centres – Drop in-centres offering information, advice and guidance to young people aged 13-25.

LifeCentre – A charity supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse of all ages.

Mind Advocacy – Advocacy service for young people aged 11-18 in West Sussex area who are in the community or who are informal inpatients.

Mind – An independent mental health charity providing information and support to anyone experiencing mental health issues, plus Autism & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) training courses for parents and carers.

On My Mind (Anna Freud Centre) – Self-care strategies if you are feeling low or anxious, and a wellbeing directory.

Samaritans – A 24-hour confidential listening and support service.

Sussex Mental Healthline – Offers crisis care for people in urgent need of help with their mental health. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sussex Oakleaf – Be OK – A free mental health service for people aged 16-25 living in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex.

The Saturn Centre (SARC) – A sexual assault referral centre providing a range of services to people of all genders who have been raped or sexually assaulted. It is open for police referrals across Sussex 24/7.

Winston’s Wish Bereavement Support – Counselling for children, young people and families who have experienced bereavement in their direct family.

Young Minds – A leading UK charity providing resource booklets, self-help guides, service directory and a parent and carers helpline.

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The Looked After Children Specialist Nurse and Your Health Summary

West Sussex Looked After Children Health Team is there to support you until you are 18 years old. During your time in care, you will have been invited to an annual health assessment with the Looked After Children Specialist Nurse. Some of the things they would have talked about with you are:

  • Your general health needs
  • How you’re staying healthy
  • Dental and optician checks
  • Things you might be worried or concerned about.

As you turn 18 years your health remains important to us. Being healthy does not only mean being physically healthy, but also includes your mental and sexual health. There are a lot of services that can help you.

You can access NHS Choices to help you find services in your local area:
Find services near you – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

You can also download the NHS app:
NHS App – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Read more

Here is some more helpful information for you:

Our offer to you

Your responsibilities and our advice

Your Doctor

It is important to register with a GP; your Personal Adviser (PA) can help you, should you need help. A General Practitioner (GP) treats common medical conditions and can refer to other services.

Find a GP

GP records include information about your medicine, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results, hospital discharge summaries, appointment letters and referral letters. You can access your GP records by registering for GP online services. You can then access your health information through a NHS login or the NHS app.

Visit GP online services

If you move home, it will be your responsibility to inform your GP and sign up with a different one. You need to keep your PA up to date with your GP and your next of kin details.

Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

If you need someone to talk to about any concerns and you do not feel comfortable to share these with your PA or a trusted person, then we can signpost you to relevant services that may be able to provide you with support.

Here are some links that you may find helpful:

Sussex Mental Healthline: Sussex Mental Healthline | Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust or call 0800 0309 500

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/ or call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463

Samaritans: https://www.samaritans.org/

or call 116 123 anytime or email jo@samaritans.org (24hr response)

Every Mind Matters: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) : https://papyrus-uk.org/ or call 0800 068 41 41 or text 07786 209 697

Sane: http://www.sane.org.uk/

Shout 85258 – Text Shout 85258 to get confidential 24/7 crisis text support for times when you need immediate assistance or dial 999

If you are struggling let someone know how you are feeling. There are a lot of people who are here to help you.
Sexual Health

If you need help accessing sexual health services, you can ask your PA to support you. If you are having sex or thinking about having sex, it is important that you protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy by using contraception. If you do not feel comfortable in discussing this with PA, please use the links below.

Sexual Health West Sussex – Sexual Health Services West Sussex

Where can I get sexual health advice, now? – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Keep yourself safe. There are services that provide you with free condoms, contraception, pregnancy tests and much more. If you do not use contraception, you will be at risk of becoming a young parent or catching sexually transmitted infections.
Dentist, Opticians and Prescriptions Costs

If you are receiving benefits, you should be able to access free dental (teeth) care, optical (eye) care and prescriptions. They are also free if you are under 19 and are in full-time education. If you do not meet these criteria but you are on low income, we can support you to apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme. If you then receive an HC2 certificate for help with health costs, you are entitled to:

• free NHS prescriptions

• free NHS dental treatment

• free NHS sight tests

• help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses

• help with the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment

• free NHS wigs and fabric supports


If you want help and support, you need to talk to us to let us know

It is important you attend health appointments, otherwise you could be at risk of being taken off the list of patients. If your circumstances change it is important to check if this impacts on receiving free health care support.

Drug and Alcohol Support

There are services that can help with drug and alcohol treatment, including advice, information, drop-in-services, structured treatment, counselling, harm reduction techniques.

Here are some links that you may find helpful:

Change, grow, live: Drug & Alcohol Wellbeing Network – West Sussex | Change Grow Live

Alcoholics Anonymous: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/ Or call 0800 9177650 or email help@aamail.org

Frank: https://www.talktofrank.com/ Or call 0300 123 6600

If you want support, you need to talk to us to let us know you would like help.

Health Summary

When you become a Care Leaver you will be given a summary of all your health records by your Nurse. It will include:

  • Your NHS number

  • Immunisations (vaccinations) you have had

  • Any health professionals you have seen

  • Your current GP

  • Useful contacts

  • How to access a full copy if required

Your nurse will start completing the summary with you at your annual health reviews from when you are 16 and give it to you before you are 18.At your last health review, they will ask you how you would like to receive the summary.  If you do not have this review, they will send the summary to your last registered GP in case you wish to look at it later.  Your Nurse will let us know when it is done.

It is important that you keep this information safe as it could be important to you at any time in the future, but your GP will also hold a copy

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