St Mary’s Mount Care Home

Page last updated: 12 May 2022
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Implementing a pain assessment tool


St Mary’s Mount Care Home is a 30-bed residential home that provides care for residents who have dementia and other cognitive impairment.

In the past they used paper-based pain assessments tools that can be subjective from one carer to another. When assessing pain for people with dementia, it can be difficult to conclude if they are in pain or their behavioural changes are due to something else. The home heard about PainChek, a tool that uses artificial intelligence to pick out facial muscles movements that are indicative of pain. This enables carers to identify the presence of pain for people who can’t tell you they are in pain. The tool is non subjective. It takes no more than two to three minutes from doing the face scan to the rest of the assessment and is completed at the point of care. It also records all pain assessments completed. This shows trends and how pain is being managed.


St Mary’s Mount adopted the tool following a demonstration and discussions about how it would make a difference for residents. Senior staff were trained in its use. After the training session they also informed the rest of the team and the families via their newsletter. This was well received by families. St Mary’s Mount has also set up a protocol on how and when they use PainChek and how it fits into a normal workflow.


The home is completing more than 300 assessments a month across all residents. Staff can see the various data sets that show trends in pain assessments and therefore the effectiveness of the treatment given. One resident who was on regular pain medication showed no pain at all when assessed using PainChek. Using this information, the GP changed the regular treatment for ‘as required’ pain analgesic. The resident remains pain free, therefore use of the tool has stopped the over-use of medication. The team has managed to identify pain levels in residents that show a change in behaviour – they know what to treat rather than thinking that someone’s behaviour has changed and trying to manage that alone.

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