November 2016

We all know the saying this time of year - Spring forward and Fall back – and with the end of daylight savings time, comes the need to adjust the time on our alarms, stoves and car stereos. November also marks National Diabetes Awareness Month, making this a great time to focus on turning back the clock on diabetes as well.

Did you know that early intervention is essential to preventing and managing diabetes? In many cases simple lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise can return elevated blood-glucose levels to the normal range. In the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN, where 1 in 10 residents is living with diabetes, reducing its incidence and impact is a priority. That’s why Diabetes Education Programs (DEPs) have been a focal point of our work.

The 18 DEPs across our LHIN offer both group and one-on-one education sessions to provide people with knowledge and skills to self-manage their diabetes. DEPs help people with diabetes experience better health outcomes including improved blood pressure readings, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and weight control; and help them prevent or minimize complications such as vision loss, heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage and amputation. DEPs are administered by a team of specially trained health care professionals who help clients and their loved ones better understand and manage their diabetes in order to prevent or reduce complications. These teams also help connect clients with other programs and resources available in their communities. 

We are also engaged in ongoing work with health service providers, including primary care, to improve the access to and coordination of services for people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes. The Leaders in Diabetes Committee, which includes representatives from all DEPs works to support a more integrated, patient-centred system of diabetes care and services that are accessible, equitable, effective, and offers individuals the best value. The Committee aims to promote best practices in diabetes care and management, optimize utilization of DEPs and to share successful models/processes of care through networking and collaborating across the diabetes spectrum of care.

A coordinated access model has been developed and rolled out across the LHIN to standardize and improve access to DEPs. The model enables people to join a DEP without a referral, and for health care professionals, it includes a standardized referral form and three geographic zone lead agencies to coordinate access and better link people with the services and resources they need.

Ruth Pepper is a great example of how DEPs are making a difference in people’s lives. Ruth’s story was shared at the most recent LHIN board meeting as part of our Voices in the Community video series.

Ruth, a 69-year-old Simcoe resident, has been living with Type 2 diabetes for more than 20 years. Before joining the Haldimand Norfolk Diabetes Education Program at Norfolk General Hospital five years ago she struggled with her weight, felt pain in her knees and feet after a walk around the block and was on multiple medications. Since joining the program, she has learned a new way of eating and the importance of exercise. She has lost 100 pounds, can walk comfortably, is on a lower dose of medication for blood pressure and no longer needs medication to control her blood sugar.

  • To watch Ruth’s Story and hear her speak about her experience and how DEP services changed her life, CLICK HERE
  • To learn more or find a Diabetes Education Program near you, CLICK HERE
  • To learn more about diabetes, including symptoms, complications and treatments,  visit

If you or your organization would like to be featured in a future blog or share a patient story in one of our Voices in the Community videos you can reach us through our office, or if you’re on social media via our Twitter handle -@HNHB_LHINgage. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.