Joseph Bell’s aunt, Louise Gant, puts it very simply: “Visits from the hospice people make Joseph very happy. They have helped him so much.”
Joseph, 51, has lived with developmental disabilities all of his life. A new battle – cancer – makes him feel weak and tired. The hospice team is helping him fight his symptoms, like Sheriff Matt Dillon fights the bad guys on Gunsmoke, Joseph’s favorite TV show.
Coastal Hospice serves Joseph at the Special Home in Cambridge that he shares with three other residents. His team of hospice nurses, aides and social workers comes in several times a week. They help his home caregivers, regulate his medications, and make sure he’s stable and not in pain. They also watch his weight and overall condition.
When asked how he’s feeling, Joseph makes the “OK” sign. He’s relaxing in a comfortable recliner, covered with a brown plaid blanket handmade for him by the ladies of the First Baptist Church in Delmar and given to him by Coastal Hospice. Joseph is watching an old black-and-white rerun of “Dennis the Menace” on the TV screen in the living room of the warm and cozy home.
Joseph and his caregivers at the home are hoping he improves enough under hospice care so he can get back to doing the two things he loves best: going to church at the Royal Family Outreach Ministry and shopping at Walmart.
“He loves, just loves, going to Walmart,” says Sarah Jackson, a caregiver in Joseph’s group home. “We put him in the electric cart, and he cruises the store, just looking around. He always heads straight for where the DVDs and electronics are. Movies are his favorite, especially Dukes of Hazzard.”
When Joseph is having his picture taken, he doesn’t say, “Cheese.” Instead, he shouts “Walmart” and flashes a big grin.