One of the newest positions for special education professionals in today’s schools and hospitals is that of the transition coordinator. This position was specifically developed to help students and patients make key transitions in their lives, most often to independent living arrangements or into assisted living facilities that work with unique medical, development, and mental health needs. Typically, the profession can be broken down into medical and educational areas, with each type of coordinator performing slightly different services to a slightly different demographic.
The Medical Field: Advocating for Smooth Transitions to New Facilities
Transitions happen all the time in the medical world, most often when patients move from long-term inpatient care to a more independent living facility. This mostly applies to older patients, who might have significant medical problems that keep them in a hospital for several weeks. Once those problems are addressed, they’ll likely be advised to move to an assisted or independent living facility that provides greater security and medical peace of mind that living in a private residence. This transition can be tough mentally and medically, and coordinators do their best to ease the process.
In this role, medical professionals will find a facility that meets the unique personal and medical needs of their patients. They’ll also develop an independent treatment program that can help minimize ongoing pain, arrange for ongoing treatments of a terminal disease or disorder, and keep their family members involved in their progress both medically and personally. They’ll also coordinate in-home health aides and other services on the patient’s behalf, making this very significant transition a great deal easier to handle.
In Education, a Slightly Different Transition to Oversee
Educational professionals who are working in a transitional role will be responsible for overseeing students with special needs, or those students with significant special education requirements. Instead of focusing on a transition to assisted living facilities, these professionals will be preparing special needs students for an independent life outside of the educational environment. They’ll teach students essential life skills, and they’ll emphasize the importance of socialization. Transition coordinators in this capacity may also prepare special education students for entry into a new type of classroom.
Many of the most severe special education needs require students to be taught in separate classrooms at certain times, sometimes exclusively, for several years at a time. As they prepare for high school, these students are placed into traditional classrooms with their peers who do not suffer from a learning disability. For these students, coordinators will review study and behavioral habits that set them up for success. They’ll also create a plan that will keep their educational success on track, including weekly study halls and special education instruction sessions.
Two Different Roles with a Common Focus on Long-Term Wellbeing
Transitioning to a new classroom, a new and more independent life after school, or an assisted living facility that makes it easier to treat major diseases, is no easy task. Change is hard to deal with, especially for the groups mentioned above. The role of a coordinator is to help make that change easier to accept, by focusing on incremental steps, handling all of the most stressful details behind the scenes, and staying in tune with the very significant and particular needs of students and patients. A good transition coordinator can manage all of these things with ease, and make the eventual transition feel like the next logical step, rather than a major disruption.