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Staff Profile

Debra Westlake

Research Fellow

Kath Maguire

I am primarily a qualitative researcher, with a specific interest in ethnography and its application to mixed methods studies.I work in applied health service research that seeks to involve patients and practitioners in research design, make research findings accessible to them and inform practice. 

I joined Plymouth University in May, 2014 to work on the ethnographic component of the Avoidable Acute Admissions Study. While with PenARC I have worked on the Person Centred and Coordinated Care (P3C) stream of work as well as other projects. I carried out an evaluation of Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) across the South West and supported NHS England in analysing the progress of IPC nationally. I synthesised the qualitiative findings from the P3C evaluations and involved patients and practitioners in developing theory about engagement with person-centred ways of working with people with multiple long-term conditions (Lloyd et al., 2017). I am also involved in developing a bid for funding on a co-produced community assets based intervention for refugees.

Before coming to Plymouth, I worked for the Department of General Practice, University of Liverpool, on a qualitative study of GP attitudes to completing benefit claim forms, and for the Health and Community Care Research Unit (HaCCRU) at the University of Liverpool, on a mixed methods project that examined the impact of health policy on family management of health. I was also employed by The Children’s Society to design and carry out a study of community child health needs, commissioned by purchasers and providers of local health services.  

I initially qualified as a Speech and Language therapist, working in the health, education and voluntary sectors. I am the co-founder of a project in Peru and a UK registered charity (Westnell UK in partnership with Sembrando Juntos, Peru ) that provides preschool education and community development for families in shanty towns of Lima.

Working internationally has allowed me to learn about the joys and challenges of applying practice across cultures and sensitised me to local variation in implementation. My understanding of the role of the community in informing health and parenting practices in families has been key to this work.

Email me

Contact by phone
01752 762133

Employed by
University of Plymouth

Areas of expertise
Qualitative methods, child and family health, emergency care


Avoidable Acute Admissions (AAA)

Person-Centred Coordinated Care (P3C)


How can frontline expertise and new models of care best contribute to safely reducing avoidable acute admissions? A mixed-methods study of four acute hospitals.

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October 2020 Newsletter

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Our latest newsletter, with news of our continued COVID-related activities, the launch of our new...
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06 October 2020

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Remote-by-Default Care in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Theme: ARC - Public Health

A research project to investigate how to ensure the delivery of effective care accessed remotely...
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Digital Health Resources for Clinicians and Researchers

Theme: ARC - Methods for Research & Improvement

An introduction to literature and resources on digital health for researchers and clinicians in response...
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Research Projects