An increasing number of families are looking for legal advice about removing their relatives from care homes, it has emerged.

With recorded care home deaths from Covid-19 currently hitting more than 2,000 per week, law firm Leigh Day said it was receiving at least 10 calls a week from families seeking advice about overturning guidance that prevents them from withdrawing their relatives.

Emma Jones, a solicitor specialising in human rights at the firm, told The Guardian: “Prior to the crisis, I didn’t often get enquiries from families wanting to bring their loved ones out of residential care homes and into their own homes. But families are worried now that care homes aren’t the safest place for their loved ones and, as a result, they want them back home.

“The difference now to before the crisis is the fear factor. The fear that coronavirus will sweep through the care home and everyone will die. Not being allowed to visit their loved ones in the care homes is making the fear worse. It’s increased the worry.”

Helen Wildbore, director of the Relatives and Residents’ Association, added that the charity’s helpline had seen an increase in calls on the subject in the past week.

She said: “Following news of the increased numbers of deaths in care homes, we received at least 10 calls in four days. But for those who lack capacity to choose where they live, it’s not always as easy to bring loved ones home as some families might initially think: many residents in care homes have Deprivation of liberty (DoL) authorisations, which mean families will need to work with a social worker to be sure that moving is in that person’s best interests.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s largest care home provider, HC-One, has written to social services officials asking for financial assistance after projections showed its occupancy rates were likely to drop from 90 per cent to 70 per cent by July.

The Guardian reports that HC-One, which has 328 homes and almost 20,000 residents, has asked councils to continue paying it at 90 per cent occupancy rates. The firm has already warned of the impact of the pandemic on its future, stating that Covid-19’s effect may be “so significant that it represents a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt on the group’s… ability to continue as a going concern”.