A nurse bequeathed $315,000 by an elderly couple who she
cared for has been cleared of unethical behaviour by the
health watchdog - despite concerns from the couple's son that
it was too much money.
Judith Lynch, a registered nurse of Christchurch, spent
three-and-a-half years looking after retired banker Robin
Allardyce and his wife, Barbara, a former editor at The Times
in London, before they died one month apart in 2010.
The pair, aged 92 and 80 at the time of their deaths, became
friends with Ms Lynch when their families were neighbours in
Mrs Allardyce was later diagnosed with Parkinson's disease,
while Mr Allardyce suffered from minor strokes, regular
attacks of gout, arthritic pain and pneumonia.
Ms Lynch acted as caregiver for the couple, assisting in
their everyday needs and other aspects of their care.
The nature of this relationship, from October 2006 to Mr
Allardyce's death in April 2010, was examined by the Health
Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal after the couple
bequeathed $315,000 to Ms Lynch.
Two charges were brought by the Professional Conduct
Committee (PCC) against Ms Lynch, related to inappropriate
and unethical behaviour in accepting the money, and providing
nursing services without a practising certificate.
The case hinged on whether Ms Lynch had acted as a
professional nurse, or simply cared for them as a close
Two of the Allardyces' three children, twins Alex and Lucy,
were called by the PCC to give evidence about Ms Lynch's role
in the care of their parents.
In 2009, the couple's wills were changed to increase the
total bequest to Ms Lynch from $225,000 to $315,000. Alex
Allardyce said he told his father $200,000 was generous, and
$300,000 was disproportionate to what other friends were
Lucy was clear Ms Lynch's services were those of a nurse.
Alex said that he did not get the sense Ms Lynch was
diagnosing or treating his parents, but said she did provide
medical care during the last three months of their lives.
According to the tribunal decision, Ms Lynch became Mr and
Mrs Allardyce's caregiver in 2006 when she moved into a
property the couple owned next door to their new Wherstead Rd
home. Mr Allardyce had discussed with two friends having Ms
Lynch provide care in return for reduced rent.
An Aged Care Matters registered nurse, who became involved
with the couple in December 2007, also told the tribunal Ms
Lynch had said she was paying reduced rent in return for
supporting the couple.
While Ms Lynch did not give evidence at the hearing, she
submitted an affidavit rejecting this.
She also stated she didn't think she had behaved
inappropriately in accepting the money, or had been employed
as a nurse for the couple.
Ms Lynch said she had no idea money was being left to her and
this was accepted by Alex Allardyce.
Evidence provided by people who knew the couple showed Ms
Lynch to be a good friend of them.
Tribunal chairman Bruce Corkill, QC, concluded the care she
provided was in line with a surrogate or family member giving
caring assistance. This meant she did not need to hold an
annual practising certificate.
Both charges against Ms Lynch were dismissed.