Pain is a subjective symptom that can result in poor sleep, depression and reduced ability to achieve activities of daily living. Pain is commonly observed in the terminal phase of a palliative illness.

For support with switching between opioids, refer to Opioids: Switching between Formulations.

Assessment of Pain

Open Access

Pain in residential aged care: Management strategies (948kb pdf)
Within the document, the following tools can be accessed:
  • Resident’s Verbal Brief Pain Inventory (RVBPI) - (page 12)
  • Abbey pain scale - (page 15)
  • Components of initial pain assessment - (page 65)
  • Persistent Pain Inventory (PPI) - (page 68)
  • Pain thermometer - (page 68)
  • Pain Assessment In Advanced Dementia (PAINAD) Scale - (page 69)
  • Visual analogue scale - (page 72)
  • Pictorial or faces pain scales - (page 72)
  • Geriatric Pain Assessment Sheet (GPAS) - (page 74)
  • Tips for better sleep: Things you can do for yourself - (page 75)
  • Pain management guidelines - (page 79)

Savvas S, Gibson S. Pain management in residential aged care facilities. Aust Fam Physician. 2015 Apr;44(4):198-203.
Cornally N, McLoughlin K, Coffey A, Weathers E, Buckley C, Mannix M, et al. Palliative Care for the Person with Dementia: Guidance Document 5: Pain Assessment and Management (2.47MB pdf). Dublin: Irish Hospice Foundation; 2016.
Pain Management in Palliative Care (280kb pdf) produced by Hammond Care.

Patients in your care may find the information in this leaflet useful: Learn more about pain and pain management by Palliative Care Australia.

Dementia Training Australia has an information resource on Identifying and treating pain in people living with dementia.

Medicines Information

Open Access

palliAGEDgp smartphone application (available as an app or as online content) Tasmanian Adult Palliative Care Formulary

Subscription Required

Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) Therapeutic Guidelines: Palliative Care


Subscription required

Therapeutic Guidelines: Palliative Care


Open access

CareSearch website

Subscription required

Australian Medicines Handbook (AMH) Therapeutic Guidelines: Palliative Care


  • Always be aware if a person stiffens and resists, vocalises, or grimaces during routine nursing care. This may be a sign that he or she is experiencing pain.

This content was developed for the Decision Assist program, and is managed by CareSearch
Page updated 18 September 2018