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The Spiritual Needs of Caregivers with Hadley Kifner

Tuesday October 10, 2017 12-2pm (arrive at 11:30 a.m. to sign in and for “meet and greet” reception catered by Vimala’s CurryBlossom Cafe)

Click here for handout: TheSpiritualNeedsOfCaregivers


This presentation will offer a working definition of spirituality, focusing on the particular spiritual needs of those who are taking care of a loved one. We will discuss how caregivers often struggle to recognize and meet their own spiritual needs because they are so focused on caring for the other; what kinds of spiritual distress caregivers may experience; various tips, tools, and techniques for promoting healthy spiritual coping and wellness; the importance of spiritual assessment; and how spirituality can have both positive and negative impacts on how caregivers cope. The overall theme of the presentation will suggest that caregivers have particular spiritual needs consequent to their caregiving role and that seeking spiritual support provides the benefit of coping as well as meaning making within an intense relationship.


Hadley Kifner currently serves as the Pediatric Chaplain for the NC Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. She works with an interdisciplinary team to offer palliative care and supportive services to children and their families and her particular focus in on the assessment and providing of spiritual and emotional support. She is also engaged in conversations with clinicians about the importance of making room for spiritual and emotional reflection within professional practice. Prior to joining the Department of Pastoral Care, she served as director of children and family programs in the rural church setting and coordinated community outreach efforts for a hospital hospitality house.

Learning Objectives:

At the completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the kinds of spiritual distress (and growth) that caregivers can experience 
  2. Explore various tools and techniques that promote spiritual well-being and healthy coping 
  3. Assess spiritual needs of self and others using specific tools and techniques 


  • Speraw, S. “Spiritual experiences of parents and caregivers who have children with disabilities or special needs.” Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2006 Feb-Mar;27(2):213-30
  • Theis et al. “Spirituality in caregiving and care receiving”. Holist Nurs Pract. 2003 Jan-Feb;17(1):48-55.
  • Murphy et al. “The health of caregivers for children with disabilities: caregiver perspectives.” Child Care Health Dev. 2007 Mar;33(2):180-7.

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