Fostering a pain-vigilant culture to support evidence-based pain management practices in residential aged care

Nobody wants to be in pain. Unfortunately, people with dementia often can’t tell us when they are experiencing pain.

In undertaking pilot research in Intervene Phase 1 during 2014 and 2015, HammondCare’s Dementia Centre identified issues of staff communication, limited interdisciplinary collaboration and inconsistent use of assessment tools as barriers to evidence-based pain management in residential aged care services.

Intervene Phase 2 was a follow on implementation project between 2016 and 2018, designed to address these issues. The HammondCare Dementia Centre research team worked with staff at four residential aged care sites in Australia to critique their current approaches to pain management and to co-create strategies for improvement.

The project was funded through the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre 

Pain is everyone’s business. So if you observe a change, consider pain.

Outputs of Intervene Phase 2 have been synthesised and developed into resources which can be used to implement best practice pain management in RAC.

Video Series

A key project output is a three-part pain education video series developed in consultation with healthcare professionals working in the aged care sector to provided pain management education for frontline staff. The videos were endorsed by Pain Australia

Further details of the project including findings can be found in the project final report.

Educational booklet

An educational booklet which can be downloaded for free has also been developed as an output of this project. It can be used as a reference resource for staff in residential aged care.

Pain Management Protocol

Staff feedback at the commencement of the Intervene Phase 2 Project revealed that there was an absence of a clear decision making pathway to guide staff through the sequence of recognising, assessing, treating and monitoring pain. As such, a Pain Management Protocol was developed and implemented.

Pain Management Model 

The pain management model is a highly consultative resource developed as a synthesis of findings from the Intervene Phase 2 Project. It is a transferable resource that can be accessed by other residential aged care service providers that may be looking for ways to improve their pain management practices.

Final Report 

The final report presents a summary of the project design, findings and recommendations.

Pain Assessment Tools

There are several observational tools that can be used by any staff member to assess pain in the people for whom they care. These can be used to assess pain whether the individual in pain can verbally communicate their pain or not. Tools include but are not limited to the Abbey Pain Scale, PainAD or PainChek™.

Bicultural Tools

Pain is a very individual experience; hence it is important to listen to the individual. This can be complex when people with dementia have lost the ability to communicate verbally, and even more so in the absence of a common language where people of different cultures are involved. Bicultural tools can support staff to deliver more culturally appropriate care. For Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS); Ph Contact: 131 450 (24 hour).


The Dementia Centre, HammondCare delivers education programs and events for a range of topics including pain management. For upcoming events  visit: Alternatively, you may wish to connect with a member of the team to arrange a bespoke education session at your residential aged care, via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.