What’s the problem with forecasting the days ahead for long-term care? I think Warren Buffet aptly summed up all you really need to know.

“Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future,” he said.

That’s worth keeping in mind, especially now that a new year is suddenly upon us. These days, it seems everybody and his palm reader have something to predict.

You’d think the various savants might be a bit more cautious, given the lesson the overall economy is now delivering. To recap: For more than a year, we have been hearing from stock pickers, analysts, strategists, economists and even the Federal Reserve that misery is just around the corner.

And what is actually happening? Employment, spending , wages and the GDP continue to rise. And, oh yeah, stock share prices shot upward. Where have you gone, Michael Burry? And that goes for all the other talking heads insisting the economy was on the road to perdition.

Which reminds me of another famous quote. This one by Niels Bohr, the Nobel laureate in physics and father of the atomic model: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future!”

Despite his warning,  the prognosticators proudly march on, egg on their faces be damned.

So, what are we hearing about what’s in store for long-term care? Plenty. Here are some of the greatest hits:

  • Staffing challenges: Difficulties in hiring and keeping qualified workers will persist — and probably worsen.
  • CMS mandate delays: Final rules for minimum staffing requirements will likely be put on hold until after the November elections.
  • Post-COVID recovery: Healing from the recent pandemic will continue as occupancy rebounds and better infection control standards are implemented.
  • Technology’s ascendance: Technology tools will become more ubiquitous, and artificial intelligence will be the belle at this particular ball.
  • Portfolio expansions: Organizations will likely increase their service options.
  • Increased transactions: More deals and collaborations are on the horizon.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Truth be told, many of the predictions being served up are little more than a continuation of developments in progress. Then again, calling for second helpings doesn’t require much courage. Still, even some of the no-brainer predictions may be in for a rude awakening.

Why? Because one of the few things that can be said with certainty about the future is that it always delivers surprises.

With that in mind, here’s my advice to those bent on predicting what fate’s Amazon truck will soon deliver: Proceed with caution. And if not, keep an absorbent towel handy. Those eggs can make a real mess.

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.