Recognise and remedy pain or discomfort - The Care Certificate

Ensure the comfort of individuals, recognise the signs of pain or discomfort and take action to remedy them

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

An important part of your role as a care worker is to ensure that the individuals that you are caring for are not subjected to any unnecessary pain and discomfort and (where possible) any pain or discomfort is recognised and remedied swiftly.

This is especially true for individuals that have restricted movement or mobility because they may not be able to resolve issues of pain or discomfort without assistance. For example, an individual that is bed-bound may not be able to roll over to a more comfortable position on their own or be able to administer their own prescribed pain relief.

A person-centred approach means having an awareness of the wellbeing of the individuals that you care for, which means being able to recognise when they are distressed, in pain or uncomfortable.

This could be identified verbally by the individual telling you that they are in pain or discomfort but sometimes they may not be able to communicate in this way. You will need to be familiar with the individual’s care plan so that you understand the different ways that they may communicate and make observations for signs that may indicate the individual is uncomfortable. Some signs of pain or discomfort include:

  • A pained facial expression
  • Crying
  • Screaming
  • Gritted teeth
  • Aggression
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Changes in personality

As you spend more time working with individuals, you will gain more of an insight into their unique personality, behaviour and methods of communication.

When you have identified that an individual is in pain or discomfort, you should take remedial action as soon as possible. This can include:

  • Adjusting their position (if you have relevant training)
  • Adjusting their pillows/bedding
  • Administering prescribed pain relief (if you have relevant training)
  • Adjusting medical devices/equipment such as wheelchairs, prosthetics and catheters (if you have relevant training
  • Making adjustments to the environment e.g. opening/closing a window
  • Performing personal care
  • Providing support and reassurance

Remember that you must work with the individual to resolve issues with pain and discomfort, always keep them informed of your actions and obtain their consent.

Sometimes, you may recognise that an individual is in pain or discomfort but not be able to identify the reason why or may not have the required training or responsibility to perform remedial actions. In these cases, you should report your concerns to your manager or supervisor immediately, so that they can arrange for this to be investigated or actioned further.