Three things that won't happen in long-term care during 2018

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

Last week I offered three fearless predictions for the year ahead in long-term care. Turns out I was in good company.

Modern-day Nostradamuses (Nostradamii?) seemed to be spouting off everywhere, if my email inbox is any indication.

But not a single prognosticator offered something that might be even more helpful for this sector. A list of things that won't be happening.

So without further ado, here are three predictions every long-term care operator can count on. As in, count on not to occur.

1. Regulations will not go away

Yes, 2017 was a great year on the deregulation front. The White House took great pride in calling off the regulatory dogs, and it has promised more of the same for 2018. This sector has been a particularly noteworthy beneficiary.

But don't put your compliance manuals in storage quite yet. There may be fewer new rules proposed and put in place this year. But like dandelions in spring, more will be coming. Part of the continuation will be nothing more than the winding down of works in progress. But there will be some new rules proposed as well.

2. Technology will not solve all your problems

Yes, I did note last week that technology will play a larger role than ever in long-term care. That remains true. It's also true that technology is not a savior. Can properly-applied technology solve riddles and make some of your headaches go away? Yes. Can technology undo poor strategic choices, corner cutting and a failure to invest/reinvest in your business? Highly unlikely. As my stylist said when I requested the George Clooney haircut, “It's a comb, Honey, not a magic wand.”

3. Unflattering news coverage will not subside

Pity the poor nursing home operator these days. He wants to do good and do well. (And it's almost always a he.) But that unscrupulous competitor down the street will apparently stop at nothing.

In the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, it's hard to be a saint in the city. It may be even harder to be an ethical long-term care provider. As a practical matter, many feel forced by circumstance, greed and/or fear to do things they'd just as soon not be reported in the local paper. Alas, such things frequently are. For more on this reality, please Google “nursing homes.”

Please don't shoot the messenger here, but negative press is unlikely to subside any time soon. To be fair, the bad news will continue in no small part because media outlets are always looking for salacious stories that are easy to report. But if we're going to be frank, a big part of the problem is the many operators who make such journalistic efforts about as challenging as looking for poop in a dog park.

So buckle in. It should be an interesting year ahead. Regardless of what happens. Or doesn't.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.

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