Assessment of pain and alleviation of distress for people living with a dementia
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Assessment of pain and alleviation of distress for people living with a dementia

Serena Jones Nurse specialising in dementia care and a member of Liverpool Community Learning Disability Team
Gary Mitchell Dementia care advisor, Four Seasons Health Care, Belfast

Serena Jones and Gary Mitchell outline how person-centred care can improve pain management

Many people living with a dementia are either not recognised as having pain or do not receive effective treatment. Currently 50% of older adults living with dementia in nursing home settings have been identified as having pain, but about half of these may be unable to communicate their experience and so do not receive pain relief or treatment. The person’s resulting distress may manifest as ‘challenging behaviour’ that is often attributed to the dementia and is not appreciated as a reaction to an unmet need such as pain. Evidence suggests that if ‘challenging behaviour’ occurs in a person living with a dementia, prompt use of validated pain assessment and improved, person-centred pain management can reduce the distress and improve the quality of life for the service user, staff and other care-givers. This will involve appropriate training of practitioners and also multi-agency collaboration.

Mental Health Practice. 18, 10, 32-36. doi: 10.7748/mhp.18.10.32.e980


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 26 February 2014

Accepted: 11 June 2014