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 – January 16, 2015

Mail Icon Phone Icon

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.