Helping you live a healthy life with a chronic condition

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.

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.

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.

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

Living a Healthy Life 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.

The “Living a Healthy Life 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.

You will have greater confidence in yourself and will feel empowered using the new skills that you have learned.

Participants must be able to set goals and function in a group setting. 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.

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.

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.

There are about 10 to 16 participants in an in-person workshop and 6-10 in a virtual workshop.

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

If you’ve taken a 6-week workshop for 2.5 hours once a week and the main principle 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 principles 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 “Living a Healthy Life” Chronic Disease Self-Management workshop or feel you learned the skills in the other program. 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.

No. Some people are referred, but participation is open to anyone who has a chronic condition or is a support person for someone with a chronic illness.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

You will learn problem solving and goal setting skills, along with different strategies to help you better manage your symptoms. You will also learn to manage your medications and communicate with your doctor.

No. The “Living Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions” workshop is designed to complement education & programming offered by your healthcare team. . It works to help reinforce the existing valuable disease-specific information being provided while supporting the patient in learning self-management tools. You will learn about implementing healthy change and gain empowerment over your condition.

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.

The Program is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and is delivered through multiple partnerships within the Central LHIN.

The Central LHIN 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.

The Trainers who deliver the Leader Training Workshops are experienced course leaders who have received further training to become Master Trainers.

The training and materials are FREE.

The 4-day Self-Management leader training program will expose you to a new and empowering approach to self-management for those living with chronic conditions. Taking the training will allow you to be eligible to lead workshops in your community with another peer leader who is most likely living with a chronic condition. You will develop skills to support self-management in the patients with whom you interact.

No, it is not difficult to be a leader. Leaders will have thorough training, and receive ongoing support from the Program Coordinator as needed. As far as the course material is concerned, the Leaders Manual gives exact instruction and tips in a user-friendly structure. You do not need to be a health professional to lead this course.

Leader refresher courses are scheduled from time to time. They are an opportunity to share experiences, ask questions and practice leader skills.

Leaders are provided with ongoing support and opportunities for education.

Leaders must successfully complete a 4-day Leader Training Workshop. If feasible, we ask certified leaders to commit to deliver the six-week course at least twice in the following year but must be able to run an annual course at a minimum. They will also have the opportunity to participate in activities to promote and implement the course in the community.

As a leader, you will have the satisfying task of integrating the contents of the program and learning group facilitation skills that can be transferred to other areas of your life. Most importantly, you will watch people affected by chronic conditions successfully manage their health conditions by using the skills and tools that you have shared with them.