When a loved one faces terminal illness and the treatment meant to cure or slow the disease is no longer working, they may decide to forgo treatment and turn to hospice. In the later stages, the quality of each day is important. You desire relief from pain, shortness of breath and other symptoms so you can focus on the people and things you care about most.

Some people think hospice means giving up, and others worry they won’t get the medical care they need. When in reality, hospice care simply focuses on increasing the quality of life rather than extending it. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss the most common misconceptions and 10 things you can expect when starting hospice care in Norman.

1. How soon can I begin hospice care?

To qualify for hospice care in Norman, either through Medicare or private insurance, a physician must certify that you have a life-threatening condition with an expected six months or less to live. Keep in mind, this time frame is an estimate. There’s no exact, scientific basis for knowing how long you have left.

So, back to the question: How soon can I begin hospice? It can start as soon as you notify a hospice provider of your interest and the physician writes an order to begin services. The hospice team will then discuss your needs and develop a unique plan of care. And in most cases, the first visit can take place in as little as 24 hours.

2. What can I expect in my first weeks of hospice?

Once you’ve decided to pursue hospice care in Norman, a referral will be made by your doctor, a hospital social worker or another healthcare advocate. From there, a representative of our hospice will contact you and make an appointment to visit your home at your earliest convenience. We recommend inviting family members will be a part of your support to that first meeting.

A hospice team member will review hospice services while one of our skilled nurses will discuss your medical history with you and how you and your family are managing the illness. Together, you’ll review medications and decide the amount and frequency of services needed. Then, the nurse will answer any questions you or your family might have before signing the required forms.

3. How long does hospice care last?

Sometime to keep in mind, you have to qualify for hospice but can opt out at any time. If you sign up and realize it’s not for you, you can quit. Another scenario might occur where you live longer than the time that was originally estimated. If this occurs, you have two options:

  • Continuing hospice if your disease process continues to meet criteria.
  • Or, discontinuing if your condition has shown signs of progress or you wish you pursue active treatment again.


4. Do I have to give up all medical care?

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions we encounter in the hospice industry. Signing on with hospice doesn’t mean you have to give up all your prescriptions. In fact, our team works closely with you in choosing (or keeping) medicine that manages your symptoms the best.

The transition to hospice in Norman is rather a shift from one set of goals to another. In other words, from curative measures to pain and symptom management and quality of life. If for some reason, you feel you haven’t exhausted all your treatment options in search of a cure, hospice might not be the best option.

5. Can I still see my regular doctor?

Of course! Hospice care in Norman is multi-disciplinary by intention. A typical hospice team consists of your physician, a skilled nurse, social worker, counselor, volunteers and a home health aide. This team may also include physical, speech or occupational therapists alongside nutritionists.

In hospice, you have access to all these wonderful resources while continuing to see your regular doctor who’ll remain in charge of your medical decisions.

6. How will the medicine being used affect me?

The goal of pain management in hospice is to enable you to live with the highest of life possible, not sedate you. Most often, if you’re experiencing pain, you’ll be tired, irritable and fixated on how ill you’re feeling.

Pain and symptom management is used to treat disease symptoms, anxiety and lessen the overall burden — helping you feel like yourself when spending valuable time with friends and family.

7. What does hospice offer outside pain and symptom management?

Because hospice is made up of a team of skilled nurses, therapists, counselors and more, it can positively impact patients’ lives in more ways than pain and symptom management. In fact, this service is designed to support the more personal aspects of this life stage — focusing on relationships, creating memories, living intentionally and achieving a sense of closure through spiritual peace.

8. Can hospice be extended to my family?

Certainly. A hospice nurse can help families interpret what’s happening, explain the symptoms and provide caregivers a break with respite care. Additionally, hospice services can be extended to the patient’s family, offering spiritual, psychosocial support and bereavement services during this time of need.

9. How is hospice care paid for?

Hospice care in Norman is covered under Medicare Part A along with many private insurance plans. Under the Medicare Hospice Benefit, all comfort medications, supplies and equipment related to the illness are also covered.

For specific information in regards to pricing, check out our latest blog here.

10. How are decisions made in hospice care?

Team members typically arrive one at a time, on a schedule you’ve agreed to. Hospice considers all input from the patient, family, physicians and medical evaluations to develop a patient’s plan of care. Additionally, the plan is continuously reviewed and revised based on the patient’s medical condition. The patient and their family are at the center of hospice. The team will always be looking to you, so it’s best to be candid so they understand how to best care for your wants and needs.

Is there a question we didn’t answer?

Our team at McCortney Family Hospice is here to help. We proudly serve families in counties around Oklahoma including Canadian, Grady, Cleveland, McLain, Garvin, Murray, Carter, Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Pontotoc, Johnson, Seminole, Hughes, Coal, Pittsburg, Atoka and more. Contact one of our headquarters in Norman (405) 360-2400 or Ada (580) 332-6900, and let’s discuss how to improve the quality of your or a loved one’s last days.

Wondering if hospice care in Norman is right for you?

Hospice and palliative care are used interchangeable but offer distinct advantages. In this free guide, we outline the similarities and differences of each — helping you make your time as comfortable as possible.