John O’Connor

It wasn’t all doom-and-gloom when a financial futurist weighed in last week at NIC’s Fall Convention. More like a rude awakening.

As if the past two years didn’t give operators bad enough dreams, the next two could be the stuff of nightmares, according to Jason Schenker, who chairs the Futurist Institute. 

Some looming challenges will be familiar, he cautioned. Others, not so much. They will likely include higher costs for workers, products and breaking ground, all while the nation’s overall economy continues to sputter.

And as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping kick start their little bromance, who knows what kind of mischief those lovable scamps might get the rest of us into, Schenker warned.

He said a primary challenge for seniors housing and care operators will be to stay viable until 2026, when a long-anticipated age wave finally floods the long-term care zone with an unprecedented supply of care-needing Boomers.

However, there is the little matter of not expiring in the interim. And by all indications, for some it won’t be easy.

So what should operators do? 

Schenker offered five pieces of practical advice that may make the months and perhaps years ahead a bit less hazardous:

  • Focus on return on investment
  • Minimize costs
  • Account for sticky inflation
  • Be cautious with speculative investments
  • Focus on operational resilience

That’s pretty good advice in general, but it’s especially poignant for a sector having a Moses Moment. That’s when the Promised Land is there for the taking, but remains tantalizingly out of reach.

For what it’s worth, I’d add two more keys to financial survival. I wish I could claim them as original thoughts. In fact, I heard each mentioned more than once at NIC.

One is to focus on the value being delivered to your customers. A second is to treat employees as well as humanly possible.

Even by doing all those things, there’s no guarantee you’ll survive the next 24 to 48 months. But should you ignore them, there’s a very good chance you won’t.

 John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.