The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes to the world in a very short time. This is especially true for assisted living communities, where many of our most vulnerable citizens reside. One interesting development we’ve implemented to keep both existing and potential residents safe, is the virtual tour.

Because we’ve had such great results with this method, we’ll likely keep the option open, even as in-person tours become the norm again. Which ever option you choose, Morgan Lane Assisted Living Community of Tea, South Dakota, would like to provide you with tips on how to get the most out of your visit.

Consider the Overall Design

How an assisted living facility is laid out can affect how well you or your loved one transition after move in. Too small, and mobility issues may become an even bigger challenge. Too large, and the atmosphere may feel unwelcoming.

An in-person tour should involve all of your senses, including sight, sound, feel and smell. Take note of how clean the staff keeps the building and grounds. The community should be quiet enough to concentrate on personal projects, yet it should have a welcoming buzz of activity at peak times during the day. Pay attention for lingering odors that may indicate hygiene neglect or poor housekeeping routines.

If you’re on a virtual tour, ask to be taken on a “walk” around the facility. Keep an eye out for grimy windows, worn upholstery or dirty floors and rugs. If you know which room is available for rent, ask to be shown the view of the grounds from the window. Does the room feel spacious enough to be comfortable? Is it decorated in an uplifting color scheme?


The reason most assisted living residents choose to move into such a community is because it is no longer safe for them to live in their own homes. Conditions such as poor mobility, balance issues, decreased eyesight and dementia often require residents to have extra supervision to keep safe. Inquire about building security, if and when the home is staffed with a nurse or other medical professional, and how urgent medical situations and emergencies are handled.

Care & Training of Staff

Assisted living communities exist to provide the extra care residents need to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. In order for this to happen, it’s imperative the staff are well trained, have undergone a thorough background check, and the staff-to-resident ratio is low enough for employees to perform their duties well. Ask about these things, as well as if the facility provides custom care and treatment plans for each client, how disruptions are handled and how family/friend visits are managed.

Socialization Opportunities

As we age, it’s important to stay engaged with peers through conversation, physical and mental activity and spiritual growth. Enquire how the assisted care unit encourages people to build friendships both in and out of the community. Observe current residents to see if they seem relaxed, happy and engaged. If you’re visiting in person, stop and chat with community members about what they enjoy most about their home. When partaking in a virtual tour, ask for a calendar of activities or request to see an activity in real time.

What Comes Next?

Assisted living may not be the long-term solution for your loved one should their health decline. Find out what happens when an increased level of care becomes necessary due to physical or mental deterioration. Be sure you know how much extra care is too much for the facility’s staff to handle and at what point will your loved one will be advised to find another living arrangement. If you decide it is time to move on, be sure you know how much notice you’ll need to give, and how that notice must be delivered, to avoid paying for care you’re loved isn’t receiving.

Gather Information, Then Follow Your Heart

It’s never an easy decision to move into an assisted care community, but arming yourself with information can make it less stressful. Whether your tour is done virtually or in person, ask as many questions as you can think of, and request to have any answers you’re not comfortable with clarified. And remember, if something just doesn’t feel right in your heart, wait until you have more information to make your final decision, or look for an assisted living community that better fits the needs of your senior.

Assisted Living Options in Tea, SD

At Morgan Lane Assisted Living Community, we believe that senior living should be all that the “golden years” are meant to be. If you are interested in visiting our community either virtually or in person, we’d be happy to set up a time to do so. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please give us a call!