Alvin Carlos at RAAFA Alice Ross King Care Centre

Registered Nurse Alvin Carlos has been in the aged care industry for a decade, and today works alongside a team of nurses and doctors to provide care for 102 residents at RAAFA Alice Ross-King Care Centre, located in Bull Creek, Western Australia.

RAAFA Alice Ross-King Care Centre accommodates residents who are able to live independently, as well as those who require aged care services, including residents with dementia and cognitive impairments.

The reality of caring for residents in pain

With a broad spectrum of residents under his care, Alvin’s role is multifaceted and requires an individualised approach. However, effective pain assessment is one of the key challenges he faces in caring for the vast majority of the centre’s residents.

“About 90-95% of our residents experience pain,” Alvin explains. “Some of them don’t really complain about it but are in fact experiencing it already. It could be that they don’t want to show that they are in pain or it could be masked by pain relief medication. Some of them are physically and cognitively declining and may not be able to tell us about their pain level.”

“So we have to look at their history and see if they are at risk of pain. Even if they say ‘no’ to being in pain on the very first day, we will monitor it because within that week, it’s likely that at least a level one or two of pain will come up.”

Pain assessment not only has important implications for a resident’s treatment outcomes and quality of life, but also for giving family members much-needed peace of mind.

“People would like to see their parents or grandparents be comfortable and we understand that. Our residents’ families are emotional and we have to address that in a way that provides assurance we’re properly assessing the resident and giving them the pain relief they require.”

Proactively supporting residents to live pain-free lives

The RAAFA Alice Ross-King Care Centre team recently started using PainChek®’s digital pain assessment solution for both verbal and non-verbal residents with dementia or cognitive impairments. Alvin says he now uses PainChek® regularly to assess residents’ pain quickly and objectively.

“Daily pain assessment is easier with PainChek® because we can do it straight from an iPad, even while a resident is just watching TV or having a cup of tea. From my experience, it helps me validate my judgement as a nurse. I want to make sure that my assessment is objective. Using PainChek® helps me gather all the data together to get a complete picture of what’s going on with that person, so we can provide them with the best pain management plan.”

One recent highlight for Alvin was using PainChek® to accurately assess a new resident’s level of pain and develop a care plan with appropriate pain relief.

“We have one resident here who just came in as a new admission,” Alvin says. “Initially she wasn’t on any pain relief, although her records showed she has arthritis on her hip and was getting agitated at night time.”

“PainChek® helped us to identify that the resident was actually in severe pain even though she couldn’t tell us. So we were able to develop a care plan with pain relief rather than just giving her psychotropic medication to help her sleep, for example. Being able to assess what they’re actually experiencing allows us to give residents that quality of life.”


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