Orchard Care Homes had noticed high numbers of antipsychotic medicines being prescribed to people living with dementia. There appeared to be little consideration of why these people were distressed and communicating this through behaviour. Orchard staff were convinced pain was a key factor in these distress responses—they were not necessarily because the person had a diagnosis of dementia.
Orchard adopted PainChek, a digital pain assessment tool, in 2021 to support their dementia promise framework. They worked with the PainChek team and ran a pilot with the app. They were one of the first care providers to use this solution in the UK. It was originally launched it in one of their specialist dementia care communities, but is now in all 23 Orchard homes. Since the rollout of the app, there has been an increase in available pain relief and a decrease in conflict-related safeguarding referrals. There is increased time available for colleagues and a reduction in polypharmacy. There has been a 10% decrease in antipsychotic medicine use across all 23 homes, promoting a greater quality of life.
People now have effective pain management plans. Orchard have also been able to ensure distress plans are in place which firstly considers if pain is the cause of distress.
This case study was submitted to the Care Quality Commission's (CQC's) Capturing innovation to accelerate improvement project by Orchard Care Homes.