Apr 26, 2021

Loud and clear: The new revolution helping aged care residents verbalise their pain

PainChek Universal

Elderly people often live with conditions that cause pain, meaning that the assessment and treatment of pain is one of the most important aspects of aged care, and is key to maximising residents’ quality of life.

Yet research has shown the treatment of pain is often suboptimal in aged care settings.

One of the difficulties of assessing pain in an aged care setting is the fact that some residents, particularly those living with dementia, are no longer able to communicate their level of pain with carers.

Facial recognition app PainChek was developed to help carers assess pain in these residents, allowing point-of-care pain assessments that provide data which can be tracked and charted, without manual handling of records or duplication of effort. The app not only helps to improve quality of life for aged care residents, but it also frees up clinical staff to spend more time delivering care.

Now, PainChek has expanded its pain management functionality to include tools for those residents who can self-report their pain, or those whose ability to self-report varies from day to day.

This new solution is called PainChek Universal.

What is PainChek Universal?

PainChek Universal is a complete point-of-care solution that enables best-practice pain management for all residents living with pain in any environment – from those who cannot verbalise pain to those who can, and those who fluctuate between the two.

PainChek Universal includes access to the existing PainChek app, which uses artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to accurately assess the micro-facial features associated with pain, and automate the pain assessment process for those who cannot verbalise their pain. The app assesses and maps 42 indicators of pain across five domains: behaviour, vocalisations, movement, activity and the body to produce an accurate and objective pain score.

For those who can reliably self-report their pain, PainChek has incorporated a Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) into the PainChek application. The assessor simply asks the resident a guided question regarding their pain and documents their response in the app. For those who fluctuate, PainChek Universal supports seamless switching between the two, with both PainChek and NRS scores housed in one app and available at the carer’s fingertips.

Beyond assessment, PainChek Universal also enables carers to deliver best practice pain management. The app generates significant amounts of data regarding pain assessment and outcomes, which allows clinicians to streamline their processes and make crucial onward pain management decisions for individual residents.

Helps improve quality of life

“Since we introduced PainChek as a standard pain assessment tool for cognitively impaired residents in our facility, we have had a 72% increase in the number of pain assessments completed,” said Matt Kowald, General Manager Residential Care Services, Barossa Village.

Being able to identify the symptoms of pain can help staff determine if a resident is experiencing pain-related symptoms or acting out other frustrations.

“This technology allows consultants who have been called to assist with someone where behaviour impacts on their care to assess and identify if that person is in pain,” explained Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, Director of the Dementia Centre, HammondCare.

Yvonne Ayre, General Manager of Regents Garden, added, “Pain and behaviour management often go hand in hand and PainChek has provided us with a simple but effective tool to diagnose that a person has pain and effectively manage that pain.

“As a result, we now have a number of documented cases of reduced use of behaviour medications (such as antipsychotics) and an improvement in the quality of life for the residents.”

Integration with leading Care Management System (CMS) providers

PainChek is a publicly available application program (API), which means the data gathered can be easily incorporated into existing clinical technology systems.

“PainChek enables easy record-keeping, which can be integrated with existing software record systems,” explained Ciarán Foley, Chief Executive Officer, Allambie Heights Village.

“It provides accountable and clear record-keeping and evidence availability for staff, GPs and for auditing purposes.”

Free PainChek Universal trial: 6 weeks left to sign up

PainChek Universal is fully funded by a Federal Government grant, meaning it is available free for 12 months – including set up, training and ongoing support.

Once you are a subscriber, PainChek Universal can be used across any number of homes.

Places for the trial are limited and sign-ups close on 31 May 2021. Interested parties are encouraged to act soon to take advantage of the offer.

To find out more about PainChek Universal, visit the website at painchek.com. Applications for the free trial can be made here.

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  1. If you know the patient it is obvious when they are in pain. Facial recognition may help but what really changes everything is the relationship between the patient and the person assessing the pain. What Aged Care needs is a stable workforce which is appropriately trained. If you want safe care you have to have safe work. Safe work means having enough Nurses and enough Doctors. Patients who are in pain should be able to call in their own Doctor instead of waiting for care from the Doctor who covers the facility. You can actually get better faster care outside of a nursing home at a bulk billing clinic. It is one thing to assess pain using your iPhone but it is a completely different thing to adequately treat it.


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