© 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Ideational and gender discursive approaches are used to examine how implementing actors discursively engage with processes of marketization within home care policy in Ireland. Front line service providers, including private actors, non-profits and migrant care workers’ problem representations, solutions and underlying assumptions about what a care market is and should be offer insights into how practical experiences of market mechanisms are perceived to shape policy implementation. A focus on how implementing actors mobilize discursively on home care underlines how implementation should be viewed as a process that continues to be negotiated, often contested or even resisted, as it is implemented. Implementing actors’ legitimize, contest and adapt to the marketization of home care in divergent and overlapping ways as discursive agents that mediate between policy design and implementation reproducing in turn gendered and racialized ideas about care and care work.