People with dementia experience pain like everyone else. However, as a result of their dementia they may be unable to communicate their pain. This can lead to incorrect diagnosis and treatment and reduced quality of life for the resident.

The Intervene project conducted at HammondCare’s Dementia Centre identified issues of staff communication, limited interdisciplinary collaboration and inconsistent use of assessment tools as barriers to evidence-based pain management in residential aged care services.

Intervene Phase 2, funded through the CDPC, examined pain management tools and strategies used in the sector by studying four residential aged care sites.

It found that there was a gap between what was available to treat and assess pain and what was actually being used in facilities. Training in pain management for staff is critical, particularly as previous research has pointed to the ongoing problem that people with dementia who are experiencing pain are often undertreated.

More information and outputs from the project are on the Intervene Website, which includes a three-part pain education video series (see below) developed in consultation with healthcare professionals working in the aged care sector to provide pain management education for frontline staff. The videos, endorsed by Pain Australia, clearly explain current best practice in diagnosing, assessing, monitoring and treating pain.


Professor Colm Cunningham