Medtech firm, PainChek, calls for greater use of technology for pain assessment and management among people with dementia
The PainChek digital app assesses pain among people who may not be able to reliably self report, such as those with dementia
The NHS should prioritise pain assessment and management in people living with dementia to help resolve the hospital bed crisis, according to medtech company, PainChek.
Approximately 25% of hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
And patients with dementia have longer stays in hospital, with the condition one of the main reasons for delayed discharges.
“There is a relationship between pain and delirium and research shows that both pain and delirium are common in people living with dementia admitted to hospitals”, explains Dr Kreshnik Hoti, senior research scientist at PainChek.
The Government, NHS, and healthcare officials need to include pain assessment in any planning for tackling the hospital discharge gridlock in social care settings
“Conditions like delirium commonly delay the release of hospital patients and result in further readmissions and, unfortunately, pain and delirium often go underdiagnosed or undertreated in people with dementia.
“This is why the Government, NHS, and healthcare officials need to include pain assessment in any planning for tackling the hospital discharge gridlock in social care settings.
“An increased focus on pain assessment would enable healthcare professionals to effectively evaluate if dementia patients are medically fit for discharge.
“And such a strategy will maximise the £250m promised by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, last week to alleviate pressure on the NHS by buying social care beds to support hospital discharge.”
It is a daily challenge for healthcare professionals to assess pain in non-communicative individuals and many people living with dementia may be unable to reliably self report their pain, or their ability to communicate may fluctuate.
Dr Hoti said: “Regular and accurate pain assessments are required to manage symptoms effectively and ensure dementia patients are adequately discharged and followed up, but this is not always practical when using traditional paper-based pain assessment methods.
The right technology solutions support better care outcomes in all people and are usable by every health and social care professional in all settings
“The right technology solutions support better care outcomes in all people and are usable by every health and social care professional in all settings.
“Point-of-care recording and seamless reporting can ensure adequate follow-up of pain management, reduce the administrative burden on hospital and care home staff, empower the workforce, and equip them with the means and information to better care for and treat residents.
“With worldwide cases of dementia predicted to treble to 153 million by 2050, long-term investment in pain management is essential to transforming the way dementia care is delivered and support the appropriate evaluation of medically-fit patients going forward.”
PainChek is the world’s-first regulatory-cleared medical device for the assessment of pain, enabling best-practice pain management for people living with pain in any environment, from those who cannot reliably self report, those who can, and those whose ability fluctuates.
The app is available on smartphone and tablets and combines PainChek’s AI pain assessment tool, which intelligently automates the multi-dimensional pain assessment process, with the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS).
This hybrid functionality allows accurate and consistent pain assessment at the point of care, and for care to be considered in PainChek’s detailed reporting suite, PainChek Analytics.
The app is currently being used in over 1,500 aged care facilities, with more than one million digital pain assessments conducted to date.
Using PainChek can:
Clinical studies conducted in Australian and UK residential aged care centres have been published in various peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
And an article in BMC Geriatrics indicates that PainChek is a valid and reliable instrument to assess the presence and severity of pain in people with moderate-to-severe dementia living in aged care settings in the UK.