Whitepaper explores complex relationship between pain and dementia


PainChek®’s Peter Shergill explains the drivers behind a new whitepaper exploring the complex relationship between pain and dementia, and shares how PainChek has transformed pain assessment at a UK care home.

Ensuring residents’ pain is assessed effectively is critical for care home operators. This has long been a challenge, especially for residents living with dementia and impaired communication.

Pain assessment can only be achieved with the right tools. New in the UK, PainChek® uses facial analysis and AI to assess pain for people with dementia and other cognitive impairments by identifying micro-facial and other non-verbal indicators of pain.

Story continues below

PainChek® has recently published a whitepaper ‘Pain and dementia: common challenges for care managers’, which explores the complex relationship between pain and dementia.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, introduces the paper, and says: “The ability to assess pain for those living with dementia is fundamental to the provision of high-quality care.

“The paper outlines the role digital technology can have, and advocates the power of digital to eliminate some of the inconsistencies that have existed in the recording of pain, which once addressed, enables proper pain management techniques.”

Dementia in the UK

Dementia affects around 850,000 people and is the UK’s biggest killer. Currently, there are around 18,000 care homes in the UK, where approximately 70% of residents have a form of dementia, 80% of whom suffer pain at any one time, and 50% persistent pain.

To improve understanding of why assessing pain is so important, PainChek® investigated the relationship between pain and dementia, and the reasons why effectively assessing and managing pain is so important.

Assessing pain effectively generally relies on self-reporting, and while pain in people with dementia is very high, many are unable to verbalise this.  The pain goes under-detected and under-treated, leading to slowing recovery, cognitive decline and behavioural and psychological symptoms.


Navigating the landscape of pain and dementia is challenging, especially when using paper-based systems.

Utilising technology is an enabler. Tools that increase accuracy of assessments and reduce the time to effectively evaluate pain are crucial. Technology that overcomes the gap in pain documentation, equips care providers with the means to better plan and treat pain according to evidence-based pain management practices, ultimately, improves the quality of care.

By embracing technology, care providers can identify the root causes of potential complications from the outset, reducing unnecessary prescribing of antipsychotics, and minimising the risk of further health complications or side effects.

PainChek® focuses on non-verbal indicators of pain and provides unique insight into the pain burden of a care facility. It gives voice to those that cannot verbalise their pain, improves the output of assessments, reduces the time to effectively assess resident’s pain, allows digital sharing of data with healthcare professionals and families, and provides a fast and effective line of communication to ensure all parties are included in the care.

Effective pain control

PainChek® has transformed pain assessment at CQC Outstanding rated Heathfield Ladies Residential Home. Owners Paul and Louise Rowley say: “We have been working with Lancaster University in search of innovative methods to support residents’ moods and behaviour. Adding PainChek is a genuine enhancement of the care we offer.”

PainChek®’s Whitepaper is available to download free from the website:

Tags : Best practiceDementia CareInnovation

The author Lee Peart

Leave a Response