Unqualified care workers are routinely assessing pain in patients with dementia in nearly half of independent care homes, indicates a survey carried out by Napp Pharmaceuticals.
It conducted a survey of 100 independently owned care homes on the provisions they had in place for identifying and managing pain in dementia patients.
Just under half of the care homes questioned, 46%, reported that support workers regularly assessed pain.
In addition, 22% of homes surveyed in England had no written guidelines in place for assessing pain in those less able to communicate, rising to 25% for homes in Wales.
Meanwhile, as many as 30% of the homes surveyed had not reduced their use of antipsychotics in dementia, despite government guidelines to do so, and 54% reported that less than half of their patients were currently taking analgesics.
Commenting on the findings, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “People with dementia can struggle to communicate and may find it difficult to express that they’re in pain.
“This means they miss out on being given pain relief and suffer in silence or, even worse, are given dangerous antipsychotic drugs.”
He added: “Training and supporting staff enables care homes to provide the best quality care possible and allows people with dementia to be treated with the dignity and compassion they deserve.”
The pharmaceutical company, which has a background in pain medicines, has created the “See Change: Think Pain” awareness campaign for carers and healthcare professionals to help identify pain in people with dementia. It includes a simple mnemonic to assist carers:
- Pick up on mood changes
- Assess verbal cues
- Inspect facial expressions
- Notice body language
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