A dignified end

“Would I be surprised if this person were to die at some stage in the near future?” That’s probably not a question many of those working with homeless people will feel comfortable asking themselves. But according to a new NHS guide to end-of-life care in hostels, it’s something they should bear in mind if they’re going to fulfil their clients’ last wishes and offer them a dignified death. It may be the only certainty, but death remains a difficult subject for both hostel residents and workers. In this article for Inside Housing, I spoke to the guide’s authors about starting difficult conversations, coping with serial bereavement and resisting the urge to force a “Cilla” moment.

“We must be seen to be co-operating with the authorities at all times”

As this article went to press, there were 680 people held at gunpoint in the Gulf of Aden: the crews of 30 merchant ships hijacked by Somali pirates. It may be weeks or even months before their ransom is negotiated, and they know there is little hope of rescue. For the 20,000 ships that sail the Gulf of Aden every year, kidnap by Somali pirates is a constant and growing threat. The world’s navies do have a presence here, but there are only around 40 warships attempting to patrol an area of ocean one-and-a-half times the size of Europe. To stem its heavy losses, the insurance industry is attempting to establish what has been billed as a “private navy” to guard commercial shipping – unprecedented, controverisal and extremely complex under international and maritime law, as I found out in this article for Insurance Times.

Cash in the basement

Insurance is not a sector that’s renowned for being at the bleeding edge of technology. But firms are waking up to the fact that all that data buried in dusty mainframes is one of the most valuable assets they own – if only they could work out what it’s telling them. In this tech feature for Insurance Times, I reviewed three software products developed to unlock the commerical potential of claims records.