© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.Accompanying a shift from multiculturalism to assimilation in integration discourse, several European immigration countries have shifted from multiculturalist to diversity-mainstreaming policies in the aged care sector. This paper answers the question to what extent diversity-mainstreaming policies provided scope for crafting care provision that is responsive to the needs of ethnic minority elders. To study the implementation of diversity-mainstreaming policies in aged care we conducted a two-year qualitative study in Nijmegen and The Hague, The Netherlands. We identified a mix of mainstreamed and ethno-specific aged care provision which reflected stakeholders’ ongoing practical concern with diversity among ethnic minority elders. Nevertheless, we found diversity-mainstreaming policies to be plagued by implementation paradoxes. In some interpretations, ‘diversity’ inhibited concrete action to address inequality experienced by ethnic minorities. When ‘diversity’ did provide space to tailor services, these were framed as temporary responses to the language barriers of the current generation of ethnic minority elders. We found this assimilationist framing to undermine long-term investment in the local knowledge needed to reach minority elders. We suggest that policymakers renew support for ethno-specific services and intercultural expertise to successfully meet the diverse care needs of current and future generations of older minority populations.