What is the “Healthy Change” workshop?

The Healthy Change with Chronic Conditions is a six-week self-management workshop that brings together people with different chronic diseases to learn to manage common challenges like pain, fatigue, and difficult emotions. Most importantly it is about empowerment, gaining the skills needed in the day-to-day management of a chronic condition and learning to maintain and/or increase life’s activities. It is widely considered a best practice in chronic disease self-management and has been adopted in many parts of Canada and around the world.

How much does the workshop cost?

The workshop and Healthy Change With Chronic Conditions reference book are FREE.

Does the workshop replace current programs or services?

No. The ‘Healthy Change’, Chronic Conditions Workshop is designed to complement existing education & programming. It works to help reinforce the existing valuable disease-specific information being provided while supporting the patient in learning self-management tools. They learn about implementing healthy change and gain empowerment over their condition.

What is Self-Management?

Self-management relates to the tasks that an individual must undertake to live well with one or more chronic conditions. These tasks include gaining confidence to deal with medical needs, everyday roles & responsibilities, and emotional issues.

What is a Chronic Condition?

Chronic conditions are ongoing physical or mental health issues that may impact a person’s life for many years. Examples of chronic conditions include heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, fibromyalgia, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis.

What will I learn?

I will learn problem solving and goal setting skills, along with different strategies to help me better manage my symptoms. I will also learn to manage my medications and communicate with my doctor.

How will I benefit from this workshop?

I will have greater confidence in myself and will feel empowered using the new skills that I have learned.

Who leads the workshop?

The workshop is led by two Volunteer Peer Leaders who have taken special training to deliver the Chronic Disease Self-Management Workshop. The leaders may be volunteers or health care professionals, many of whom have chronic conditions themselves.

What should I bring with me?

You do not need to bring any materials for the workshop with you. It is two and a half hours long with a break in the middle. You should bring a snack or drink if you want/require these, and anything you require to be comfortable such as a pillow or sweater etc.

Who is paying for it?

The Program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and is delivered through the North West Community Care Access (NWCCAC). The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care supports this Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program because it works!  It has been proven through extensive research and evaluation to help people better manage their chronic conditions, and it is cost effective.

Who is it for?

It is for people with one or more chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, respiratory disease, heart disease or chronic pain etc… anyone with any long-term physical or mental health issues, their caregivers, family or friends.

Is the program not suitable for some people?

Participants must be able to set goals and function in a group setting. For example, the program would not be appropriate for someone with dementia or memory impairment, or for someone who would be disruptive in a group. However, caregivers, family members or friends can benefit from learning self-management skills to help support others and take care of themselves.

Can a caregiver attend without the person who has the chronic condition?

Yes, a caregiver or family member who is supporting someone with a chronic condition is welcome. The program can be very helpful for them.

What if I can’t read the book?

I will let the program coordinator know that you would like an audio CD instead.

Do I need to attend all six sessions? / Can I pick and choose which sessions I want to attend?

The workshop has been carefully developed and evaluated at Stanford University, and the research shows participants benefit the most from learning new skills over the 6-week period and practicing what they learn in between sessions. We do know that “life happens” and people are not always able to come to all sessions, but attending 5 will still be very helpful.

Can I start the workshop at Session 2?

If the workshop is not full, it is possible to start at Session 2, but not after that.

Can I bring a guest to a session?

It is important that guests do not drop in on a workshop. Each session builds on the previous one and repeats important activities the participants have already learned. A new participant can easily disrupt the progress of the group and individuals. The guest will not get enough benefit out of one session and it is better for him/her to register (like all the other participants did) and take the whole workshop from the beginning.

Do I have to participate?

While no one is forced to participate, the workshop is based on the idea of learning and practicing new skills. You can participate in the activities without having to share anything that is overly personal. The amount of time any one person “talks” is limited, and all participants are asked to keep strict confidentiality about what is said.

Will I learn anything new?

The concept of self-management is new for many people. The workshop allows participants to “tailor” it to their own needs by setting their own goals each week and solving any problems they encountered.

Do I need a referral from a health care professional?

No. Some people are referred, but participation is “open” to anyone who is interested.

How many people are in the workshop?

There are about 8 to 16 participants in a workshop.

How is this program different from a support group or exercise group?

The Healthy Change with Chronic Conditions program is a licensed program from Stanford University. This program follows a standardized format that is proven to help people learn to better manage the symptoms of chronic disease. Participants develop skills such as planning and problem-solving skills, and communication skills in addition to learning about healthy living. Doing exercise or sharing “general” problems or inviting an outside/guest speaker are not part of this program.

May I take the workshop again?

Yes, you may take the workshop again. However, preference will be given to someone who has not taken it before. Please do not accept a second book.

Do people with the same condition go in separate workshop groups, such as a group with arthritis, or a group with heart disease?

No, people with a variety of chronic conditions all go in one workshop group. Everyone is learning skills to help them manage things like pain, fatigue, exercise, healthy eating, and action plans. It doesn’t matter whether you have diabetes or arthritis you are learning how to apply the skills to your condition and your situation.

Do the workshops only run in the daytime?

The workshops run at various days and times depending on the community.

I’ve already taken a self-management course with a different name. Should I also attend the Chronic Disease Self-Management workshop or is it the same thing?

If you’ve taken a 6-week workshop for 2 ½ hours once a week and the main principal was in self-management skills then there’s a good chance that it’s another Stanford Self-Management workshop which follows the main topic themes such as pain & fatigue management, goal setting with action plans and problem solving. Some people take the workshop multiple times to refresh on the principals taught and enjoy the interactive group dynamics.

There are some variances between the programs but it’s your choice whether you want to take the Chronic Disease Self-Management workshop or feel you learned the skills in the other program. Just remember that this is not a workshop on specific disease education but in gaining the knowledge in managing your disease. So although you might have taken a diabetes or another disease specific program that educates you on the disease, this workshop teaches you the skills to implement that knowledge as well as other tools in Self-Management.

Is the workshop free for participants?

This Self-Management Program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The workshops are delivered in conjunction with various health care partners and volunteers across Northwestern Ontario. The Program is sponsored as part of the provincial strategy to prevent and manage chronic diseases.

Who is the Workshop For?

The workshop is for anyone with one or more chronic conditions. Chronic conditions include any ongoing physical or mental health condition. For example, chronic conditions include diabetes, lupus, heart disease, arthritis, lung disease such as COPD, depression, fibromyalgia, crohn’s & colitis etc. Any condition lasting 3 months or more that is non-communicable can be considered a chronic disease. The workshop is also appropriate for those who are at risk of developing a chronic health condition.

A caregiver, family member or friend who is supporting someone with a chronic condition can attend even if the person with the chronic condition does not. We also welcome health care professionals to attend to better understand the program and which patients can benefit from the workshops. Many leaders arise from taking the program so if you are considering becoming a leader then we strongly encourage you to attend as a participant first. They can benefit from learning self-management skills to help support others and take care of themselves. Participants receive for free the “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” reference book, a $20 value.

The workshop is for anyone who wants to learn and practice new “self-management” skills. In groups of 8 to 16 people, participants take an active role in the workshop.

Workshop participants should be able to set and follow up with goals, and function in a group setting. Therefore the workshop would not be suitable for someone with memory impairment, or for someone who would be disruptive in a group.

Can a Caregiver Attend the Workshop?

Yes. A caregiver, family member or friend who is supporting someone with a chronic condition is welcome. The workshop can be very helpful for them. They can benefit from learning self-management skills to help support others and to take care of themselves. A caregiver can attend even if the person with the chronic condition does not. There is no cost to participate in the workshop. Participants receive for free the “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” reference book.

All participants must pre-register for a workshop. We recommend participants attend all 6 sessions or as many as possible. The more sessions attended, the more benefit!

Guests are not allowed to drop in on a workshop session. The guest should register and start the workshop from the beginning. The workshop is carefully designed so participants can progress over a six-week period. A new person can easily disrupt a workshop group that has been together for several weeks.

Do I Need a Referral to Attend the Workshop?

No. You do not need a referral from a doctor or health care professional to attend the workshop. Some people are referred to the workshop by their health care professional, but the workshop is open to anyone with an ongoing physical or mental health condition. A caregiver, family member or friend who is supporting someone with a chronic condition is also welcome. Participants must pre-register for a workshop as space is limited.

The “Healthy Change” workshop does not replace the treatment you get from your health care professional. It is meant to compliment the help you get. The workshop helps people to better manage their chronic conditions on a day-to-day basis when they are not seeing their health care professional. We recommend that people attend all six sessions of the workshop to receive maximum benefit.

What if I Live Elsewhere?

The “Healthy Change” workshop offered in Ontario’s North West region is a licensed program from Stanford University. The same workshops are also offered in many parts of Canada and around the world.

This website (www.healthychange.ca) provides schedules for workshops and training in North West LHIN (Local Health Integration Network), including Thunder Bay, Kenora, Red Lake, Vermillion Bay, Dryden, Fort Frances, Sioux Lookout, Ignace, Nipigon, and Greenstone. We also have the capacity to link communities to the workshops via videconferencing.

Different provinces and territories may have different names for the workshop, but the content is the same. The generic name for the workshop is the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program or CDSMP.

Here are a few links to workshops in locations outside of Ontario’s North West LHIN.

Note: These are links to external sites. We are not able to ensure the content is accurate or up to date.


Erie St. Clair
Windsor Essex Community Health Centre

South West Region
South West Self Management Program

Waterloo Wellington Region
Waterloo Wellington Self-Management Program

Hamilton Niagra Haldimand Brant Region
Take Control Take Charge

Central West Region
Self Management Program Central East

Mississauga Halton Region
Maximize Your Health

Toronto Central Region
Choose Health

Central Region
Healthy Living Now

Central East Region
Central East LHIN Self-Management Program

South East Region
Living Well South East Ontario

Champlain Region
Living Healthy Champlain

North Simcoe Muskoka Region
North Simcoe Muskoka Self Management Program

North East Region
Healthy Living North East Ontario

Online Self-Management
Living Healthy Champlain Online Self-Management Program

Quebec & Atlantic Canada

“My Tool Box” – Living a healthy live with chronic conditions (Montreal)

Your Way To Wellness – Nova Scotia

“Living a Healthy Life” – Prince Edward Island

My Choices – My Health – New Brunswick


Get Better Together!


Live Well! With Chronic Conditions

British Columbia

University of Victoria – Self-Management Programs


The Arthritis Self-Management Program (ASMP) will teach you how to:

  • cope with chronic pain, fatigue and depression
  • understand treatment options
  • participate in your care
  • learn to keep your body healthy
  • and so much more!

Programs are held in Thunder Bay and across Northwestern Ontario.

For information and to register call Shelley Graham at 807-345-9535 ext 5, or email sgraham@on.arthritis.ca.

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