From pain relief to memory prompts: the apps helping people with dementia
[...]Another app called PainChek is being used in pain assessments of people with dementia. Developed in Switzerland, the device allows care staff to assess whether the person is in pain and would benefit from pain-relief medication. Such symptoms are often missed or misdiagnosed, resulting in administration of inappropriate antipsychotic drugs. The app, on a smartphone, takes a 10-second video clip of the person’s face and analyses it to check against a criteria used in registering pain (the Abbey pain scale), augmented by replies from the care worker to question prompts on the app.
Jonathan Papworth, co-founder of Person Centred Software, which is marketing the app in the UK, says it has been used successfully in care homes in Australia where it has significantly reduced use of dementia medication.
“For people who are unable to communicate their level of pain, the result can be that they display ‘bad behaviour’ and get angry,” says Papworth. “Behavioural drugs are commonly used in residential care to address challenging behaviour. But without the ability to understand if a person is in pain, the individual may be wrongly diagnosed.”
Papworth says that as much as 30% of behaviour deemed “challenging” in people with dementia could be attributed to untreated pain.
Daniel Throssell, compliance manager for Graham Care, which runs seven care homes in south-east England and has been trialling the app in one, says that the home’s nurses use the app when carrying out a pain assessment. “They like it as it helps them in their clinical decision-making. The other advantage is that it helps build up a picture of the person’s behaviour, and their experience of pain.”[...]