John O’Connor

Most of us are not going to miss 2020. Few years have packed such a nasty wallop.

Of course, a new year brings some headaches of its own. One is that irritating annual rite of passage known as the predictions season. In short order, forecasts about your fate will be nearly as common as abandoned New Year’s resolutions.

So let me spare you a lot of unnecessary reading and worry, while offering some advice about the road ahead.

First, let’s dispense with the obvious stuff ahead. Most notably, the long-term care field will continue to grapple with COVID-19. Sadly, more residents and staff will become sick and will die. Many operators will be driven to the fiscal brink, as the toll of lower occupancy and higher costs continues. Vaccines will help, but they won’t restore reality to its former state.

Then there are the other no-brainers: Tech’s role will certainly expand (especially when it comes to telehealth), staffing will remain problematic, PDPM will play out — and value-driven hosannas will continue. Put another way, developments already in play will march on.

As for the imminent Biden presidency, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect there as well. On the one hand, it’s likely the new administration will be more hands-on when it comes to the pandemic. That will probably be most apparent in vaccine and PPE supply chain management.

On the other hand, we know from experience that whenever a Democrat moves into the White House, new rules and regulations tend to tag along for the ride. We also know that as a result, more red tape and greater industry oversight are all but certain.

One hardly needs a crystal ball to unearth these nuggets. A set of eyeballs and a bit of common sense will probably suffice.

Which brings me to my previously promised advice. And here it is: Don’t put a whole lot of stock in what the litany of prognosticators will have to say. If they were so clairvoyant, why didn’t they warn us about COVID-19’s imminent destruction about this time last year?

Warren Buffet wisely wrote that forecasts may reveal a great deal about the forecaster, but they “tell you nothing about the future.” That may be a bit extreme, but the point is made.

Maybe what he is really saying is that the future can be, well, too unpredictable. You just never know when a once-in-a-century pandemic or an unforeseen market downturn might come calling. Or when a Gordian knot might suddenly come undone. Such are the vicissitudes.

So how should you prepare for a better 2021? Simply try to do the best you are capable of doing, every single day. It sounds simple, but it’s not easy. And in a world where uncertainty rules, effort is one of the few things you’ll actually be able to control this year.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s