Sister Pauline Richards

Sister Pauline Richards is the Director of Nursing at St. Joseph’s Aged Care Facility for the Religious, where she has worked for over 30 years. During her time, she has seen many changes to the facility and has been influential in advancements with the aim being to provide the highest quality of care for their residents.

Monitoring Pain

Sister Pauline has extensive experience caring for people with dementia. 46 residents suffer from a variety of medical conditions, including frailty and dementia. Of these residents, 32 are in various stages of dementia.

Often, before elderly individuals come into the facility they are suffering from a pre-existing pain-related health condition, such as arthritis. As they develop dementia, they lose the ability to communicate and verbalise their pain. However, the pre-existing pain doesn’t disappear overnight. They still suffer from their condition, and simple pain relief like paracetamol can often help them feel better.

“We’ve just got to be very careful, we have to really monitor people to make sure they are comfortable because this adds to their agitation or restlessness. You look at basic things, such as, are they hungry? Sometimes I’ll ask, are you in pain? They’ll say “No, I’m not in pain.” You look at their history and you talk a bit longer, and I ask, how do you feel, do you have any discomfort? And they say “My knees feel uncomfortable”. That’s a type of pain. It’s not excruciating pain, but it’s interfering with their daily activities, but they don’t call it pain.”

With comfort and quality of life at front of mind, Sister Pauline Richards played a crucial role by first introducing PainChek® into St. Joseph’s Aged Care Facility two years ago. Sister Pauline’s understanding of individuals living with dementia enabled her to highlight the significance of their difficulty in verbalising pain levels, with pain often tending to be underreported. Her extensive knowledge in this area drove her to address these challenges and ensure the highest quality pain management was provided for the residents under her care.

“If I look at all the people here, I would say at least 70% would be in some type of pain. Again, I’m not talking about excruciating, it’s obvious excruciating pain where they are crying and moaning. That’s easy. It’s this chronic pain that we need to be very aware of.”

Sister Pauline adds “discomfort is also pain. People can put up with a certain amount of discomfort, but discomfort can really interfere with your activity and your movement. A lot of people believe that it’s not severe pain and that they should get on with it, but a simple panadol or a heat pack can reduce it greatly. PainChek® has picked up a lot of things we missed.”

To relieve pain, heat packs, topical applications like Dencorub, and weekly physiotherapy visits are scheduled at the aged care facility. Following an intervention, a PainChek® assessment is conducted as a follow-up to reassess the resident’s pain.

“We were only using PainChek® for people we thought were in pain, we weren’t utilising it properly. Everyone should have a pain assessment every three months, this is a great tool and you can document it all.”

Sister Pauline believes that PainChek® has been beneficial for their Registered Nurses (RNs) in providing them with crucial insights into residents’ pain levels. With a deeper understanding of PainChek®, RNs now perform regular pain assessments, which includes follow-up assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention. RN’s on subsequent shifts can access the digital pain assessment data through the PainChek® App, providing them with a clear understanding of the effectiveness of an intervention, and allowing them to make informed decisions for ongoing care planning.

Improving Lives of Residents

As a result of using PainChek®, RNs are more aware of residents’ pain and residents are better assessed to determine what treatment they need.

“We do have a lot of behaviour problems, we try to intervene without them [psychotropic medication]. It’s something that you would look at a person’s behaviour. And if you can get on top of their pain, then you’re going to get into help with the behaviours, some behaviours you can’t do much about, it’s just brain damage. Pain will, of course, add to this whole scenario. Anybody’s pain, if you can get it down to a minimum, they can function better.”

PainChek® Analytics can be shared with multidisciplinary care teams, including GPs and Allied Health teams, providing a deeper understanding of a resident’s pain and pain management. These reports grant new insight into pain and inform the decision-making process when developing care plans, reviewing prescribing decisions, and more.

If a family member or loved one would like to learn more about a resident’s pain levels, your team can show or share the insights generated by PainChek® Analytics, demonstrating those pain levels, and how they’re being effectively managed. With PainChek® Analytics your team can provide fast, clear evidence that pain levels are being monitored, and that efforts are being made to keep pain to a minimum.

“I think their loved ones, their family would be happy to see that this person looks very comfortable. That will be one way [PainChek®] to demonstrate that this person is really comfortable, then they’re at ease.”

PainChek® has contributed to ensuring residents are as pain-free as possible ”You can’t completely eliminate pain, especially with bad arthritis, you can make it much more comfortable and they’re able to function better.”

The driving ambition at the heart of PainChek® is to give a voice to those who cannot reliably verbalise their pain, and in the process, improve people’s lives. Today, PainChek®’s digital pain assessment solution empowers thousands of nurses, carers, and clinicians worldwide to better manage pain.

If you’re interested in implementing PainChek® at your facility, submit your expression of interest today.


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