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An exploration of pain documentation for people living with dementia in aged care services


Andrews, SM and Dipnall, JF and Tichawangana, R and Hayes, KJ and Fitzgerald, JA and Siddall, P and Poulos, C and Cunningham, C, An exploration of pain documentation for people living with dementia in aged care services, Pain Management Nursing, 20, (5) pp. 475-481. ISSN 1524-9042 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2019 American Society for Pain Management Nursing.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.pmn.2019.01.004


Background: Pain in people with dementia is a common occurrence. Providing evidence-based pain management for people with dementia in residential aged care services is imperative to providing quality care. However, it remains unclear from current research how various aged care staff (Registered Nurses (RNs), Enrolled Nurses (ENs), Personal Care Assistants (PCAs)) engage at specific points of the pain management pathway. With structural changes to the residential aged care workforce over the past two decades, understanding the relative contributions of these aged care staff to pain management practices is crucial for future practice development.

Aim: To investigate the quality and completeness of pain documentation for people living with dementia, and assess the extent to aged care staff are engaged in documentation processes.

Design: A three-month retrospective documentation audit.

Setting and Participants: The audit was conducted on the files of 114 residents with moderate to very severe dementia, across four Australian residential aged care facilities.

Methods: Data was collected on each resident's pain profile (n=114). One hundred and sixty-nine (169) pain episodes were audited for quality and completeness of pain documentation and the extent to which aged care staff (RNs/ENs and PCAs) were engaged in the documentation of pain management.

Results: Twenty-nine percent of pain episodes had no documentation about how resident pain was identified and only 22% of the episodes contained an evidence-based (E-B) assessment. At least one intervention was documented for 89% of the pain episodes, the majority (68%) being non-pharmacological. Only 8% of pain episodes had an E-B evaluation reported. Thirteen percent (13%) of episodes contained information across all four pain management domains (Identification/ problems, assessment, intervention and evaluation). Documentation by PCAs was evident at all points in the pain management pathway. PCAs were responsible for considerately more episodes of assessment (50% vs 18%) compared to nursing staff.

Conclusion and Clinical Implications: Despite the high prevalence of pain in people with dementia in aged care settings, current pain management documentation does not reflect best practice standards. Future capacity building initiatives must engage PCAs, as key stakeholders in pain management, with support and clinical leadership of nursing staff.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Nursing
Research Field:Aged care nursing
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Nursing
UTAS Author:Andrews, SM (Dr Sharon Andrews)
ID Code:134224
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2019-08-01
Last Modified:2020-04-09

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