Many older people in hospital experience pain. They are not always able to report the pain and it is sometimes overlooked.
To improve the quality of life of older people and prevent functional decline, pain should be identified, assessed and managed.
All healthcare professionals should be alert to the possibility of pain in older people. We should be prepared to treat the cause of pain and the pain itself.
This topic gives an overview of pain in older people. It recommends actions we and our organisations can take, in addition to health service policy and procedures, to provide quality care to older patients.
Pain and ageing
Older people can be under-treated for pain because of misconceptions about ageing and pain.
Effective and timely identification, assessment and management of pain in hospital help reduce suffering and prevent functional decline in older people.
Managing and treating pain
The treatment and management of pain should be based on pain assessment findings and involve both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches.
Pain and discharge planning
Pain management discharge plans should be developed with older patients and their family and carers and they should be educated about implementing it.
Further information - pain
Educational and information resources available on identifying, assessing and managing pain in older people in hospital.
All public and private hospitals are required to be accredited to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s (ACSQHC) National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. The primary aims of the standards are to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. Assessment to the second edition of the NSQHS Standards commenced in January 2019. The second edition comprises eight standards that provide a nationally consistent statement about the level of care consumers can expect from health services.
The Comprehensive Care Standard (Standard 5) aims to ensure that patients receive comprehensive health care that meets their individual needs, and considers the impact of their health issues on their life and wellbeing. It also aims to ensure that risks of harm for patients during health care are prevented and managed through targeted strategies. These include integrating patient care processes to identify patient needs and identifying actions related to falls, pressure injuries, nutrition, mental health, cognitive impairment and end-of-life care.
Information is presented in the Older People in Hospital learning topics that complements Standard 5 and other NSQHS Standards including the; Partnering with Consumers Standard (Standard 2), Medication Safety Standard (Standard 4), Communicating for Safety Standard (Standard 6) and Recognising and Responding to Acute Deterioration (Standard 8).
Reviewed 03 November 2021