Pain is under-recognised and under-treated in older people. It is a subjective, personal experience, only known to the person who suffers. The assessment of pain is particularly challenging in the presence of severe cognitive impairment, communication difficulties or language and cultural barriers. These guidelines set out the key components of assessing pain in older people, together with a variety of practical scales that may be used with different groups, including those with varying levels of cognitive or communication impairment. The purpose is to provide professionals with a set of practical skills to assess pain as the first step towards its effective management. The guidance has implications for all healthcare and social care staff and can be applied in all settings, including the older person's own home, in care homes, and in hospital.