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Sep 06, 2023

Pain assessment tools: Identifying pain in residents who can't communicate their discomfort

Improving the quality of care through pain assessment 

To coincide with World Alzheimer’s and Pain Awareness Month and help raise awareness, Person Centred Software (PCS) discusses how its pain scale features within its digital social care record system help carers identify pain in residents who are unable to communicate their discomfort. 


According to the latest data, the UK has almost half a million people living in care homes, many of whom are experiencing acute or chronic pain, which is prevalent among older adults. Unfortunately, such pain is often difficult to manage, mismanaged or not managed at all. 


Assessing pain in residents who can't communicate

Older adults, who often have multiple medical conditions, can sometimes encounter challenges when expressing their discomfort and agony to carers, and pain, coupled with the loss of communication skills, can lead to further difficulties.  

When residents can't vocalise and self-report their pain, it can go undetected and untreated. Effective identification, assessment and management of pain is crucial; otherwise, it can cause distress to the individual, depression and anxiety, impact their physical and mental wellbeing, or lead to additional health problems.


In cases where residents are experiencing pain but have difficulty communicating, which can result from dementia, a learning disability, or other conditions that can interfere with communication, it's important for care providers to utilise pain assessment tools. Assessment of pain is a critical step to providing good pain management, and managing pain is integral to improving quality of life. 

By utilising pain assessment tools, care providers can better understand the pain experienced by residents and provide appropriate treatment. Successfully managing the pain residents experience is a key component of their recovery. 


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Helping carers to identify and record pain levels at the point of care 

Person Centred Software's digital social care record system, mCare, the UK's most widely used digital care planning software, has several pain assessment scales, all of which have been specifically designed to assist in assessing pain levels accurately.  

Person Centred Software's digital social record system's pain assessment scales, which allow carers to record pain while with the resident on the Care Delivery App, include:  

  • Abbey Pain Scale 
  • Wong-Baker 
  • Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) 


Each assessment provides a unique way of supporting residents to communicate their level of pain effectively.

From the Abbey Pain Scale, which uses a series of questions to assist in the assessment of pain in residents who are unable to clearly articulate their needs, the NRS, which enables residents to select their pain level on a scale of 0 – 10, to the Wong-Baker scale for people who respond well to expressing their pain through identifying facial expressions.   


Multiple pain assessments to choose from

The flexibility of having multiple pain assessments to choose from allows your service to utilise the one that fits best for your care organisation and the residents you are supporting.   

Are your residents struggling to vocalise pain? Learn more about our pain assessment tools by clicking below.  


September 6, 2023

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