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Use AI tech to assess pain in residents with dementia

Care homes can use the latest AI technology to identify and manage pain being experienced by residents living with dementia.

In a special Care Home Management magazine podcast, we discuss the power of data to support dementia sufferers who often have difficulty communicating their pain.

Tune in to the podcast here.

The podcast has been recorded in association with pain assessment technology experts PainChek.

The panel includes Hannah Miller, dementia lead at Orchard Care Homes, Liz Jones, policy director at National Care Forum, Katie Thorn, project lead at Digital Social Care and Peter Shergill, director at PainChek.

Peter Shergill

PainChek has conducted exclusive research to measure the power of data capture in this area. It involved more than 500,000 assessments.

“Technology gives dementia sufferers a voice,” said Shergill. “The data generated also helps the workforce to interact more meaningfully with individuals who might be suffering from pain.”

PainChek uses AI technology to support pain assessment. A smart phone camera uses facial recognition technology to record muscle movements indicative of pain. Carers can observe and record pain data.

On the podcast, Orchard Care Homes’ Hannah Miller talked extensively about how people living with dementia face many challenges identifying their needs, including explaining any pain.

Hannah Miller

“They can find it hard to verbalise pain and they can have trouble understanding and self-evidencing the pain they are experiencing,” she said. “This can mean they try to communicate it through their behaviour and carers need to be skilled in identifying possible signs of pain.”

She said her team had benefited from using the PainChek hand-held devices at the point of care.  

Tune in to the podcast here.

The PainChek research also identified the importance of timing pain assessments correctly and following up on them within a few hours to assess if any pain relief has worked.  Lower pain severity is recorded when people are resting, so it is important to assess for pain post-movement.

The National Care Forum’s Liz Jones said it is vital for care homes that any technology they invest in is joined up and integrated with care planning systems.

“You need any medical device to enhance the digital systems you already have. This is important to ensure you take staff with you when introducing new technology,” she said.

Katie Thorn

Digital Social Care’s Katie Thorn said technology must also be simple to use if staff are going to embrace it. “Care home staff do not want to deal with multiple log-ins for different applications,” she said.

It is also important that data generated and collected in social care can be shared with different stakeholders, including GPs, district nurses and mental health teams.

Tune in to the podcast here.

Listen to all our podcasts here.

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