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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 make research findings accessible to patients and practitioners and inform practice. 

I joined Plymouth University in May, 2014 to work on the ethnographic component of the Avoidable Acute Admissions (AAA) Study. While with PenCLAHRC I have also completed a qualitative evaluation of a third sector organisation’s project, which provides a phone link service to socially isolated groups within the seafaring community.

My interests are in people’s and practitioners’ views and experiences of health services and the participation of patients in the development of services. I am currently exploring the triad of patient, relative and practitioner role in decision making about acute admissions and interested in initiatives that promote person-centred care practices. I am working on an evaluation of Integrated Personal Commissioning across the South West and am also part of the NHS England Evaluation team for this initiative. 

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 pre-school 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.

Upcoming Events


Search Advice Clinic for Systematic...

ITTC Building, Plymouth (Cafe area: please go to Reception on arrival where a member of the team will meet you)

These clinics have been set up to help the PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team to manage and respond...
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Qualitative Research Advice Clinic for...

South Cloisters Room SC2.17, St Luke's Campus, University of Exeter

Whether you are a postgraduate student, academic or researcher you can book an appointment to speak...
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Exeter clinicians and researchers help shape proposals to improve stroke services in Northern Ireland

08 April 2019

Pioneering work by Professor Martin James, a senior NHS clinician for stroke services in Exeter...
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Successful home-based heart rehabilitation programme rolled out

08 April 2019

A new rehabilitation programme, which helps heart failure patients achieve better quality of life from...
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STARS launches second phase of Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Programme

04 April 2019

The first phase of The Supporting Teachers And childRen in Schools (STARS) programme, a randomised...
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Research Projects

Social Prescribing - Understanding what works in, and supporting provision of, nature - based therapeutic interventions for people with an identifiable mental illness

Theme: Healthy People, Healthy Environments

We have been awarded funding from DEFRA to identify what works in the use of...
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Social Prescribing - Cornwall and Plymouth Researcher in Residence

Theme: Healthy People, Healthy Environments

Evaluation work by a Researcher in Residence to assess implementation, reach, scope and acceptability of...
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Research Projects