Island Health says seniors in the Cowichan Valley will have improved access to long-term care with construction underway for 80 new publicly funded beds.

The Hamlets at Duncan will be at the intersection of York Road and Beverly Street and will also include eight private pay long-term care beds and 55 private pay independent or assisted units.

The facility will be owned and operated by H&H Total Care Services Inc. with annual operating costs of $5.3 million from the province through Island Health.

Island Health board chair Leah Hollins says the 80 new long-term care beds in Duncan is improving access to community-based facility care for seniors, meeting the needs for complex care clients while taking the pressure off the Cowichan District Hospital.

The Hamlets is being built using a neighbourhood design with resident rooms grouped in five neighbourhoods of 18 beds.

Island Health says the announcement supports investment by the province to spend $240-million over three years to increase direct care for seniors in long-term care homes.

The government aims to provide seniors with an average of 3.36 care hours per-resident, per day in B.C. by 2021.