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Nurse banned from aged care work after inheriting resident’s estate

A nurse has been banned from working in aged care over her involvement in an elderly resident’s will.

Abha Kumar was last week disqualified by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal from re-applying for registration or providing any health service in aged or disability care for five years, after she became over-involved in an elderly resident's affairs.

In July 2015, 92-year-old Lionel Cox was admitted to Cambridge House, the residential aged care facility at which Kumar worked as nurse unit manager.

Cox owned his own home, had no family and had not made a will. He was also sitting on an estate worth more than $1,000,000.

He had previously lived in that Fitzroy home with the assistance and care of his neighbours and his case manager from the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

After his case manager convinced him to try respite care, Cox told nurses his intention was to stay "until the cold months were over".

Later that month, Kumar purchased a kit from the post office, which Cox used to write his will before the witness of two staff members, under the direction of Kumar.

Unknown to them, the will named Kumar as sole beneficiary of Cox’s estate.

Cox died that same year of natural causes and, the following year, Kumar sold the house she had inherited from Cox for over $1,000,000.

Kumar admitted to the tribunal that she made false statements to staff about the will, saying Cox named two nephews in Ireland in it and that it had been torn up.

The tribunal stripped Kumar of her nursing registration due to her over-involvement in Cox’s affairs, and her failures to manage a conflict of interest and practise the profession of nursing in a reflective way.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) chair Associate Professor Lynette Cusack said the NMBA would take action where nurses were benefitting from over-involvement with vulnerable patients.

“Nurses are among the most trusted professions in our community, and the vast majority work with deep integrity and a commitment to providing professional care for vulnerable people," she said.

“When the actions of an individual let down the standards of the profession, we will take action to keep patients and the community safe from exploitation."

Should Kumar wish to re-register in five years’ time, the NMBA will then decide whether she is fit to do so.

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