All about Diabetes Education Programs

A Diabetes Education Program (DEP) is a place that provides people with the information, skills and confidence they need to manage diabetes and lead a healthy life.

Should I attend a DEP?

You should attend a DEP if you are:
  • Newly diagnosed or at risk for diabetes
  • Living with diabetes, but need help managing it
  • Pregnant and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes

Family members and friends of someone living with diabetes can also attend a DEP. 

Where are DEPs located?

DEPs can be located in community health centres or other community-based locations. They may also be located in hospitals (and are called Diabetes Education Centres or DECs).

Do I need a referral? 

Most DEPs will accept a self-referral so you can contact them yourself for an appointment. Some DEPs require a referral from a health professional.
To find a DEP in your area: Call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 and speak to a Registered Dietitian about the diabetes services available in your neighbourhood.
Your family doctor or other health professional can also refer you to a DEP. 

Will I be seen right away? 

Some DEPs may have longer waiting periods depending on their location and the services offered.  

Do I have to pay? 

No. There is no charge to attend a publicly funded DEP.

Who works at a DEP? 

A team of health care professionals, which may include:

  • Endocrinologists – doctors who specialize in diabetes
  • Diabetes Nurse Educators
  • Registered Dietitians
  • Certified Pump Trainers – specialists in insulin pump therapy
  • Exercise Therapists
  • Social Workers

What will I learn at a DEP?

DEPs offer group education classes and one-on-one counselling. Classes cover many topics for preventing and managing diabetes. They usually take place over a few days. They may also take place on a weekly or monthly basis.  
You will learn about topics like:

  • Healthy eating and meal planning
  • Reading food labels
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Medications and insulin
  • Physical activity
  • Preventing complications
  • Foot care
  • Managing stress

Bottom line 

Attending a DEP can help you manage your diabetes and connect with other people living with the same condition. You will have the help of a diabetes team who can answer any questions you may have. Best of all, it’s free to attend.
To find a DEP in your area, call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2 and speak to a Registered Dietitian about the diabetes services available in your neighbourhood.

You may also be interested in 

How to Manage Diabetes
Lower your risk of diabetes-related health problems
Tips for healthy meal planning with diabetes

Last Update – November 15, 2016

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If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.