Pain Assessment Guidelines and Frameworks

In 2019, the Commonwealth Department of Health funded a national rollout of PainChek® across residential aged care facilities (RACFs) in Australia. The rollout sought to improve the diagnosis and management of pain in people living with dementia or cognitive impairment.

The PainChek® rollout at a glance

  • 58% of RACFs across Australia participated in the rollout
  • 62% of people with dementia living in residential aged care were involved
  • 4,460 aged care staff undertook education provided by PainChek clinical consultants
  • 1,403,290 PainChek® assessments were undertaken

Global advisory firm KPMG undertook an evaluation of the national rollout to assess:

  • The extent to which the implementation was effective
  • Whether the national rollout led to a range of expected impacts

The evaluation reviewed qualitative and quantitative data from PainChek® and a sample of RACFs, as well as from surveys sent to participating providers.

Download the report here

Key finding #1: The rollout increased the capability, confidence and skills of the aged care workforce

85% of survey respondents reported benefits of using PainChek®, including:

  • Improved ability to identify pain
  • Increased knowledge of pain and how pain manifests in people with dementia and cognitive impairment
  • Greater workforce confidence in identifying pain and recognising non-verbal cues
  • Improvements in resident health outcomes

Key finding #2: The PainChek® rollout contributed to improved pain management practice across the aged care sector

Facilities participating in the rollout saw pain scores decrease over time, suggesting PainChek® had a positive impact on pain management and reduced pain burden.

The evaluation found PainChek® had a direct impact on rates of follow-up assessments, with 78% of pain assessments followed up within 24 hours. Follow-up pain assessments generally showed a reduction in pain, providing evidence for the effectiveness of treatments.

PainChek® also enabled a shift to conducting pain assessments at the point of care. Many providers updated their policies to better support and align with this modernised clinical workflow.

Integrating PainChek® pain assessment data into clinical management systems (CMS) was critical to successful adoption, with 77% of providers who completed their PainChek® implementation activating integration with their CMS.

Key finding #3: PainChek® improved data-sharing across multidisciplinary teams

78% of facilities reported that PainChek® results were frequently shared with GPs, as well as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and dementia support services.

83% of respondents said sharing results prompted a change in treatment pathways, including medication prescription. It was found that PainChek® may be used to rule out pain in residents with challenging behaviour prior to psychotropic medication administration, and support non-opioid analgesic use.

Key finding #4: PainChek® has contributed to broader reform outcomes to improve the quality and safety of aged care across Australia

The evaluation found the PainChek® rollout has supported aged care quality reforms as outlined by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, including the following benefits:

  • Supporting providers to meet Aged Care Quality and Safety Standards
  • Improving use of technology and digitisation of workflows
  • Enhancing data collection and reporting to improve pain management practice
  • Supporting decision making around psychotropic medication administration
  • Improving pain identification and management

“The KPMG report provides powerful insights into the real-life impacts PainChek® has on clinicians at the front line, residents under their care, and the broader aged care sector.

Since the 2019 rollout, we are incredibly proud to have worked with over half the Australian residential aged care sector, trained thousands of aged care staff, and amassed over 2 million pain assessments – all while the industry faced significant disruption.”

– Philip Daffas, PainChek CEO and Managing Director

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