Feeling pain? PainChek can help

Aged care workers and people living with dementia have been gifted a new tool called PainChek, an app that will identify when a patient is in pain.

The federal government has recently announced they will provide five million dollars of funding towards providing a broader use of the app.

Arjay Navarrete, the manager of Clinical Services at Regents Garden Condocare in Scarborough, says the care facility has been using the app for six months, and has seen signs of improvement in his patients.

“We have been using the app since last year, around September.”

“We have a case that has seen improvement [in that time], behaviour wise. One resident is having behavioural [issues] because of pain, but we can’t get the appropriate diagnosis as she is unable to verbalise that she is in pain.

“But when we use the app, it shows that she is constantly in pain, [and] because of that she is having behavioural issues, so we use it to manage her behaviour and as a result she has a better quality of life.”

Mr Navarrete says the app is in constant use with the care takers checking the patients regularly.

“We are using it [the app] for 10 residents and with the residents who are unable to verbalise that they are in pain, we check them once a week.

“And for residents who can verbalise but they are denying that they are in pain, we check them once a week as well.”

Regents Garden Scarborough. Photo: Ysabella Salisbury

According to Dementia Australia, more than 400,000 people are currently diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease with over half of them being women.

In aged care facilities alone, 50 per cent of the patients are in the homes for dementia.

Research Scientist for the PainChek app, Mustafa Atee, says the main intention of the app is to help those suffering with dementia let the carers know that they are in pain.

“The PainChek app is used for people with moderate or serve dementia, so in particular, it is targeted for people who can not verbalise or articulate the presence or the intensity of pain.”

Atee goes on to say the app allows people with dementia to vocalise what they are feeling without have to speak.

“They are cognitively impaired …. they are unable to articulate, because obviously they have lost that part.

“They don’t have the capacity to tell others that they are in pain.”

The PainChek app is currently in use in 68 care facilities across Australia.”

Arjay Navarrete explains how the app works:

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