Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell is undertaking a statewide tour of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers, beginning tomorrow, to get first-hand knowledge of where improvements should be made on behalf of South Carolina’s elderly. The payoff could be a comprehensive plan to improve those facilities, which are regulated by the state.

The broad survey is expected to reveal the scope of elderly services, and some of their shortcomings. As lieutenant governor, Mr. McConnell, in addition to presiding over the Senate, heads the state Office on Aging. He assumed the lieutenant governor’s position this year after Ken Ard resigned the post because of ethical violations related to his 2010 campaign.

This tour will be no mere photo-op for the lieutenant governor. It will include facilities in every county in the state, and will continue through the end of the year.

Forums also will be held in each county to give South Carolinians the opportunity to make recommendations for systemic improvements.

The tour will reach the tri-county area the last week in September.

Lt. Gov. McConnell describes the effort as his top priority.

“I don’t understand how substantive change can be made without discussing some of these issues face-to-face,” he said. “I want the opportunity to interact with communities across our state, to hear ideas from seniors, caregivers, service providers, and community leaders, and to address any questions they may have.”

Getting an overview will be necessary for any workable plan for comprehensive improvement.

The importance of the issue is periodically underscored by reports of substandard facilities housing residents who aren’t able to effectively object or to leave.

It’s further underscored by the expectation that the state’s senior population will double in 20 years.

Mr. McConnell was one of the Senate’s senior members, and was serving as Senate President pro tem when he took over the less consequential job as lieutenant governor, as required by the state Constitution.

It wasn’t a role that Mr. McConnell sought, but his long experience in state government and the regard in which he is held by his former legislative colleagues should serve him well as an advocate for the state’s elderly.

Too often, too many aren’t able to advocate for themselves.