Good pain assessment and management are basic to end of life care. Pain is under-recognised and under-treated because people with dementia often cannot communicate what they are feeling. Poorly managed pain can promote negative behavioural symptoms, often leading to unnecessary use of psychotropic drugs.

  • Treat pain as the fifth vital sign. Routinely check and treat it using a formal, organised approach.
  • Collect information about a person’s past pain experiences.
  • Develop pain management techniques to address each person’s unique needs, circumstances, conditions and risk.
  • Accept a complaint of pain and report it to a staff member who can address it.When a person cannot verbally communicate, ask those who know the person best to identify pain-related behaviour.